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Dateline

Published Date: Jan 28, 2012

WAR ON TERROR AND BACKWARDNESS FACILITATING ILLEGAL ECONOMY

the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in conjunction with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report on Pakistan’s illegal economy Friday, amidst a gathering of politicians, state bureaucrats, and foreign ambassadors.
Titled ‘Examining the Dimensions, Scale and Dynamics of the Illegal Economy: A study of Pakistan in the region’, the report is the first of its kind that attempts to link organised crime within Pakistan to its economic fallout.
Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director SDPI, along with Jeremy Douglas, Representative from the UNODC chaired the forum while Interior Minister Rehman Malik addressed the gathering as the keynote speaker.
Senator Haji Adeel also offered a few remarks on the report’s relevance to the KPK and FATA region. The report itself focuses on key areas of Pakistan’s illegal economy including the illicit drugs’ trade, the arms trade, migrant smuggling/human trafficking, the timber trade, and kidnapping for ransom.
According to the report, Pakistan’s informal economy comprised of nearly US$ 34 billion in 2009-2010. That accounts for nearly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s total GDP for the same year.
Considering the numerous challenges faced when collecting and verifying data on clandestine markets, Abid Suleri credited the report for nevertheless taking the initiative quite boldly.
Considering how past records of such markets are outdated, or contradictory to other sources, this report presents a solid framework for subsequent research to be carried out, he claimed.
Speaking on the occasion, Interior Minister Rehman Malik termed the report as a good start towards tackling an issue that has plagued the country’s politico-economic stability for decades now. He urged International Organizations to come together and work towards resolving this issue through joint efforts.
He noted how there was a dire need for the capacity building of law enforcement agencies, despite the immense strides they’ve taken over the last few years. The minister thanked the ambassadors of Spain, France, and Australia for their assistance.
“We don’t want money from you, but rather your technical expertise and knowledge,” he said addressing the three ambassadors sitting across from him.
Explaining how terrorism was intrinsically related to the black market, he urged the International community to come together and curb the demand for illicit goods, outside of Pakistan as well.
He vociferously denounced the availability of international funds and weapons to terrorist organizations claiming that the problems of Pakistan’s illegal economy are global ones, extending beyond the country’s borders.
Senator Haji Adeel also spoke briefly, giving a short account of how Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the FATA region saw the largest share of operations contributing to Pakistan’s clandestine markets. The ongoing war in Afghanistan, coupled with the sheer absence of development is what he summed up as being the major reasons behind the prevalence of the illicit trade of drugs and arms.
Within the context of current Pak-US relations, both Haji Adeel and Rehman Malik vehemently denounced the role played by the United States, in leaving neighbouring Afghanistan in a quagmire during the first war, and bringing about even further destabilisation through its ongoing war.
Haji Adeel echoed these sentiments claiming that Poppy fields in Jalalabad are enjoying the direct protection of NATO forces.