ISLAMABAD  -   The counter-narcotics authorities of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan in a two-day interaction discussed ways and means for strengthening cooperation against the trafficking of Afghan opiates and to counter massive flow of illicit drugs in the region.

The tripartite event entitled ‘13th Triangular Initiative Senior Officials Meeting’ was hosted by Ministry of Narcotics Control. It brought together counter-narcotics partners from the 3 neighbouring countries to find solutions to common challenges against flow of illicit drugs by adhering to a comprehensive and balanced approach.

Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control Arif Nawaz Khan chaired the meeting with Cesar Guedes, UNODC Representative in Pakistan, as the co-chair. “We believe that strengthening regional partnership against massive flow of illicit drugs in the region, within the framework of this strategic collaborative process, can serve as a conduit for saving lives and improving their quality,” noted Cesar Guedes in his opening remarks.

Arif Nawaz Khan thanked UNODC Country Office Pakistan for bringing together the Triangular Initiative member states through this senior officials meeting. “It is really heartening for government of Pakistan to welcome regional partners on counter-narcotics. This close interaction has helped in finding workable solutions to our common challenges,” he said at the closing ceremony.

Major General Arif Malik, Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) headed the Pakistan delegation, while delegations of Afghanistan and Iran were led by their respective DGs. The Representative UNODC Country Office Iran and Head UNODC Regional Programme Afghanistan were amongst the prominent UNODC delegates.

Since its inception in 2007, the UNODC-facilitated Triangular Initiative forum has served as a cornerstone of regional approach to drug control, says a statement issued by UNODC in Islamabad. It is supported by the Paris Pact Initiative and its Rainbow Strategy for Afghanistan, which encompasses a range of programmes designed to reduce the poppy cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of drugs. UNODC offices in the 3 countries provide technical support to respective host governments for implementing their commitments under this counter-narcotics forum.

Various regional cooperation mechanisms agreed under the Triangular Initiative include enhancement of regional response through information-sharing; planning and conducting drug-interdiction operations; and establishment of border liaison offices (BLOs). Through this 2-day meeting, the 3 sides have agreed, inter-alia, to strengthen BLOs; plan and conduct more simultaneous patrolling operations; and intelligence-led interdiction operations. The senior officials expressed interest to utilize each other’s counter-narcotics training academies, to ensure better understanding and coordination.

The three countries have been combating this scourge of illicit drug trafficking over a long period and at great cost. Many law enforcement officials, as well as ordinary citizens, have sacrificed their lives in the struggle against drug trafficking. The Triangular Initiative has helped the 3 countries in finding solutions to common challenges, by adhering to a comprehensive and balanced approach.