A third Pakistani citizen has been beheaded this year in Saudi Arabia for heroin smuggling under strict Sharia laws. Eleven people have already been executed for drug smuggling in Saudi Arabia. There are two major issues of concern. The first is that of Pakistan’s involvement in the international drug trade and heroine supply. This is something that we have been unable to nip in the bud. Without Pakistani smugglers and Karachi as a transport hub, opium production in Afghanistan would collapse. What is additionally worrying is that there are reports that poppy production is on the rise in Balochistan. The root problem is at home. It is a problem of a lack of law enforcement, bureaucratic corruption and bribery, ineffective border control of drugs coming in from Afghanistan and going out of Karachi or across the border to Iran, and of Pakistan being a factory for Afghanistan to refine drugs. The culprits that are caught are usually just middle men, the real kingpin need to be arrested and convicted. Else we will continue to have our citizens beheaded and arrested.

The list is long of what Pakistan needs to do and we can’t expect leniency on the part of international governments. All states can do is enforce their laws and that’s all that Saudi Arabia is doing. But the death penalty is a harsh way to go about it and this brings us to the second issue of human rights concerns. Beheading criminals is something expected of rogue militants like ISIS, and does not and should not be associated with the revered kingdom. The United Nations has expressed concern about the judicial process and called for an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. The country has the third-highest number of recorded executions in 2013, behind Iran and Iraq, according to Amnesty International. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi law.

Drug trafficking is also a problem in the UAE and most networks have Pakistani smugglers and transporters. These countries are of importance to us with regards to the booming remittance economy of Pakistan. We have many honest and law abiding citizens working in the Gulf and we cannot afford to get a reputation for being criminals and drug traffickers. We live in a world that is increasingly becoming more and more paranoid about security and immigration and is more and more hostile to Pakistanis. We don’t need any more bad press.