ISLAMABAD -  Japan has contributed $3,730,935 to UNODC country office for executing four projects aimed at enhancing air cargo security, combating transnational organized crime, strengthening border security against illicit trafficking and response to counter-terrorism in Pakistan.

The Japanese government’s contribution for four projects will be for one year.

In this regard, the UNODC country office in Pakistan and the embassy of Japan hosted a play up media event for the projects at Serena Hotel yesterday. This is to be implemented under the UNODC Country Programme for Pakistan (2016-2019) through the financial support of the government of Japan. Officials from the Ministry of Narcotics Control, National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were present on the occasion.

The four one-year projects will receive the funding from April 2018 to March 2019 which include US$2,545,335 for combatting transnational organized crime and strengthening borders in Pakistan, $ 500,000 for strengthening the response of Pakistan’s action to counter terrorism financing (CTF), $ 300,000  for improving forensic capacity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to investigate terrorism cases and $ 385,600 for enhancing air cargo security through establishment of Air Cargo Control Unit at Allama Iqbal International Airport Lahore.

Pakistan has been facing border management challenges at its western border with Afghanistan, which is used not only for legitimate trade and movement of people but is also a much preferred route for drugs and human trafficking.

In recent years, the challenges alluded to have become more complex with the changing geo-political environment in the region, and this is particularly so with respect to transnational organized crime, illicit narcotics trafficking as well as human trafficking and migrant smuggling. The security situation across Pakistan remains fragile and terrorists are regularly targeting civilians and law enforcement officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh. The primary focus of the efforts of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in Pakistan for countering terrorism has been on intelligence, investigation and operations against suspected individuals and organisations without considering the financial mechanisms exploited by terrorists to fund their activities. An effective approach to countering terrorism is to diminish the strength of the terrorism economy, through all possible ways including tracing the financial sources of funding used by terrorists, seizing those sources, preventing individuals and organizations from raising funds nationally and internationally.

Criminals constantly look for opportunities where they can exploit the flaws, gaps or deficiencies of laws and regulations in place. For more than two decades now, the overwhelming volume of global trade has made it more and more difficult for regulatory bodies and customs enforcement to control the actual content of thousands of millions of consignments moving across the world. This provides the criminals the opportunity to mask their illegal transshipments by legitimate trade cover.

During his opening remarks, Cesar Guedes, the UNODC country office representative in Pakistan, thanked Takashi Kurai and highlighted that through the financial support of the government of Japan, the projects will contribute to the vision of creating “a safer community, free from the threats posed by illicit narcotics trafficking and transnational organized crime.” He also said, “UNODC is leading global efforts against drug trafficking and is the sole guardian of all international conventions on drugs and transnational organized crime. The UNODC country office mandate is to empower the government in its efforts to overcome the challenges associated with transnational organised crime, thereby contributing towards the nation’s stabilisation and development.”

Takashi reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to help Pakistan eradicate all types of transnational organized crime including illicit drug trafficking. Kurai stated that the government of Japan stands committed to combating international criminal syndicates, which through their illicit activities, hinder the economic development and prosperity of the Pakistani people.