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Pakistan and UN drugs control agency jointly launch 2nd phase of maritime security project

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched ‘Improved National Response against Drugs and Contraband Trafficking in the Maritime Domain (Phase II) at a ceremony in Karachi.

This initiative funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is a twelve-month endeavor aimed at enhancing Pakistan’s maritime capabilities to combat drug and contraband trafficking, said a UNODC statement on Friday.

The project will be jointly implemented by UNODC Pakistan (COPAK) and UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP).

The ceremony was co-chaired by Rear Admiral of Pakistan Navy Imtiaz Ali – Director General Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), and Chargé d’affaires (CDA) of the United States Mission in Pakistan Andrew Schofer who joined with other notable dignitaries from UNODC, INL, Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG), and the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF).

In his remarks, Dr. Jeremy Milsom, UNODC COPAK representative highlighted the agency ‘s collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control during the design and implementation of the Phase I Project (October 2020 to March 2023).

“ (The) UNODC is adopting a holistic approach to support the Government of Pakistan in addressing diverse drugs and crime challenges more effectively both domestically and by fostering Pakistan’s partnership at various regional and international forums,” he added.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr. Milsom said that While fully aligned with UNODC’s global and country strategies, this Phase II project would greatly complement the government’s vision and ongoing efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s border management, drug supply reduction, and the rule of law – aimed at creating a secure environment for the Pakistani people.

David O’Connell, GMCP’s Programme Coordinator, delivered a comprehensive presentation on the threat dynamics related to the smuggling of drugs and other items through Pakistan.

He highlighted the achievements of the Phase I Project which aligned with the Government of Pakistan’s strategic priorities for border management.

O’Connell also provided an overview of the Phase II Project, detailing its intended outcomes such as ‘Improvements to interagency coordination between Pakistan’s maritime law enforcement agencies’; enhancing cooperation between Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies and their regional counterparts; and increasing the capability of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in detecting, deterring, and disrupting drugs and contraband trafficking through coastal areas and maritime domain.

In his remarks, Andrew Schofer emphasized that insuring a secure maritime environment is not only a priority for Pakistan, but a global imperative, as drug trafficking and smuggling contribute to instability and jeopardize the security of nations worldwide.

“By confronting these issues head-on, we are contributing to a safer and more prosperous future for all” while highlighting the 77 years of partnership between the Governments of the United States and Pakistan, and the 42 years of the U.S. Mission to Pakistan’s security assistance through INL,” he added.

Rear Admiral Imtiaz Ali, for his part, said that due to its geographical disposition, Pakistan has long been exposed to the negative impacts of illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances from Afghanistan.
“As a signatory to the three United Nations drug conventions, the government of Pakistan envisions a healthier Pakistani nation – that is free from the menace of drug trafficking and the ill effects on health caused by using narcotics drugs,” he observed .

Opiates and synthetic drugs produced in Afghanistan are transported through the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to various destination countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania, he went on to say.

Pakistan, therefore, continues to serve as the first line of defense against a massive outflow of narcotic drugs from Afghanistan – that threatens security throughout our region and beyond, Ali further said.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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