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Pakistan Today

Published Date: Jan 28, 2012

DRUG MONEY FUELLING TERROR: REHMAN

Endorsing the findings of a joint report of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday said illegal money earned through drugs and arms trafficking was being used by terrorists. Therefore, global cooperation was a must to curb organised trans-national crimes.
He was speaking at the launching of the study launch on illegal economy of Pakistan “Examining the Dimensions, Scale and Dynamics of the Illegal Economy: A Study of Pakistan in the Region” at a local hotel. Senator Haji Adeel of ANP, UNODC Representative Jeremy Douglas, SDPI Director Programme Development Qasim Ali Shah and Dr Abid Qayyum Sulehri also spoke on the occasion.
Rehman Malik spoke on different dimensions of organized crime, regional and global dimensions of their networks, funding and more importantly absence of international cooperation on these heinous crimes. He urged the Western countries to help Pakistan to improve its law enforcement agencies through sharing of expertise, equipments and training. He also suggested forming an international body on investigating and taking actions against illicit money which is one of the primary sources of funding for terrorist organizations.
He said evidences suggested that terrorist organisations used sophisticated methods to strengthen their networks and to swiftly mobilise resources across the globe generated through smuggling of drugs and illegal economy. He said Pakistan was a direct victim of global war on terror and its mainstream economy and social fabric had been destroyed. He called for the need of a united action on overflow of problems from Afghanistan.
He lamented NATO and US had failed to stop cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan, adding that the money generated through the practice directly fuelled terrorism in the region and the globe, as it was widely used for weapons, trainings and other needs by terrorist organisations. He said Pakistan had also lodged complaints to NATO but they avoided action against poppy cultivation ostensibly due to their limited mandate. Malik lauded security institutions and law enforcement agencies for their sacrifices and successes against crimes despite being short of modern equipments and training. Qasim Ali Shah, while sharing the findings of study, recommended mainstreaming of efforts to curb illegal economy into development agenda framework, capacity-building of law enforcement agencies, international cooperation, education to address demand-side aspects, and further research. He said illegal economy was a subset of the informal economy and its size and scale in Pakistan had not been investigated so far, adding that Pakistan’s informal economy was estimated at $34 billion whereas illegal economy had grown up to $1.2 to 1.5 billion. He said Pakistan’s location next to Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opiates, made it vulnerable to drug and precursors trafficking, adding that around 44 percent of the heroin produced in Afghanistan transited through Pakistan, whose destination value was estimated at approximately US$ 27 billion.
Dr Abid said it was a shared responsibility of international community to collectively deal with this menace as no country or region cannot alone control this deep rooted. “The world has also to pay immediate attention to growing poverty and inequality, and ensure alternative sources of livelihoods to communities to stop the culture of illegal economy,” he added.
Senator Haji Adeel said illegal economy and trade in FATA stemmed from the poor socio-economic conditions in FATA, adding that the locals had no other option of livelihood but to resort to illegal economy. He added militant outfits received money from Afghanistan and that the allied forces must take actions. He said Pakistan was dragged into War against terrorism and as long as this war continued, the illegal economy would also prosper.
Jeremy Douglas noted that illegal economy was unfortunately a neglected area within the mainstream development discourse despite its impact on human security at various levels. He said the study had been conducted first time in Pakistan and its primary aim was to estimate the scale and size, understand its dynamics which was subsequently undermining the prosperity of states and citizens.
He said value of global illegal economy in 2009 was estimated at US$1.3 trillion, which was growing now and thought to be 7 to 10 percent of global economy.