ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Interior was informed on Tuesday that European Union has conveyed to Foreign Office that GSP plus status of Pakistan would not be extended for second time if it did not improve its conditions of narcotics control.
Secretary Narcotics Control Division Akbar Hoti told the Senate committee, which met under the chair of Talha Mahmood, that Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in a meeting had recently conveyed the message of European Union to the division. “European Union has set the conditions for Pakistan to improve conditions of narcotics control,” he said. But he deplored that the Anti-Narcotics Force working to control narcotics smuggling in the country was facing fanatical problems. “The government is giving the force nothing; rather it is demanding from us more,” the secretary narcotics control said.
Chairman committee Talha Mahmood said that Pakistan was being used as a route for smuggling narcotics form Afghanistan to US as well as European countries. “We are not spending much on narcotics control,” he said. The secretary narcotics added that three routes were being used for smuggling of narcotics from Afghanistan to other world and one of these routes was through Pakistan, others through Iran and Central Asian States.
Director General Anti-Narcotic Forces (ANF), Major General Khawar Hanif, told the meeting that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan had increased after arrival of NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan. Poppy was cultivated over 6,700 hectares before their arrival and now its cultivation has reached up to 290,000 hectares.
The DG further said that Afghanistan produced an estimated 60 to 70 per cent of the world’s total production of opiates and 40 per cent of this total production of Afghanistan was smuggled through Pakistan.
Akbar Hoti said, “ANF needed scanners to scan the luggage as some exporters have complained to the prime minister that the manual method of checking of the forces was not good.” The DG ANF said that exporters had to bear 1 per cent loss due to opening of luggage but they saved them from blacklisting, besides improving their credibility.
The chairman committee pointed out that narcotics was being smuggled from Pakistan to China through dry fruits and many Pakistanis had been held in China on charge of smuggling . The ANF informed the committee that more than 283 Pakistanis were languishing in Chinese jails and most of them were facing charges of smuggling of narcotics.
The DG ANF said that a chemical being used to refine poppy and make heroine was also being smuggled from China to Pakistan and 103 tonnes chemical had been seized last year and 38 tonnes this year.
The committee directed the Member (Planning) CDA Waseem Ahmed to implement its earlier direction and allot additional plots to the ANF Academy in Islamabad for training purposes. The member CDA told the committee that a board meeting of CDA had declined the request of ANF to give him additional plots on the grounds that 14 kanals of land had already been allotted to it.
The secretary narcotics control division informed the committee that foreign countries including Saudi Arabia wanted to send their personnel in ANF academy for training purposes but they were facing shortage of space for training. “We have trained recently Afghan personnel,” he said.
The DG ANF said, “All the regional offices of ANF and its police stations are located in rented buildings and it takes time for their shifting from one place to another and makes the forces less focussed on operations,” The DG said that they were facing shortage of strength as well. Akbar Hoti informed the committee that they were waiting for the reply of summary sent to Prime Minister Secretariat for recruitment on 496 vacant posts in ANF.
The committee recommended increasing budget and manpower of the ANF for effectively combating the menace of narcotics. The committee also stressed that the force should be given all modern facilities and equipment to improve its performance.
The members deplored that the sale of narcotics tablets had increased to a dangerous level in the federal capital and other parts of the country, especially in colleges and universities.