|US laud Pakistan law enforcing agencies for curbing narcotics trafficking|
ISLAMABAD, Apr 7 (APP): United States Wednesday appreciating efforts of Pakistan’s law enforcing agencies for taking effective measures to curb drug trafficking and poppy cultivation, assured to provide more help and cooperation in achieving the targets of ‘poppy free Pakistan’. Talking to newsmen, David T. Johson, U.S. Assistant Secretary Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcing Affairs here at American embassy , said the US is working on a dollars 150 million programme with the cooperation of Pakistan’s anti-narcotics forces to fight the menace of drugs.
He said over 93 per cent poppy being used in the world, was being supplied from Afghanistan while Columbia, Mexico, Burma and some other countries contributed rest of 7 percent. He, however said, Pakistan’s share in supply of poppy was very low.
Replying to a question he rejected the reports that NATO or international forces are helping the local population in promoting poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.
About achieving ‘poppy free country’, status by Pakistan, Johnson said,” it depends on the control by the law enforcing agencies in the areas where operation is going on against the terrorists”.
He said once Pakistani law enforcing agencies would take control of these areas, then it can claim to eradicate poppy cultivation. “There are some very small areas in Pakistan where poppy is still being cultivated but these are relatively very small”.
He said political will can play important role in achieving the targets of “poppy free” status for Pakistan.
Replying to a question, he said there could be connections between international actors in the business of poppy and heroin.He agreed that drug money is being used for terrorist activities and there is need to check this type of income for the terrorists.
Rejecting the “intentional smuggling” of the chemical anhydride being used to convert poppy into heroin from India to Afghanistan via Pakistan, David Johson said like the effective control on the drug trafficking, smuggling of this chemical could also be checked.
Acetic anhydride in Afghanistan was a key contributing factor to the booming heroin trade there.
Acknowledging the processing of cases of those involved in drug trafficking, he said, rate of conviction in drug cases in Pakistan is very high.
He however emphasized the need that scientific methods and explanations should be used to examine the evidences in drug cases to give punishment to the real culprits.
He also appreciated Pakistan’s effort to prepare five year plant to eradicate poppy cultivation and strict checking on drug trafficking.
David Johson said US has been providing assistance and cooperation to Pakistan’s law enforcing agencies to cope with the menace of drug trafficking.
He especially mentioned the provision of helicopter surveillance through creation of Squadron Air Wing of Ministry of Interior in Quetta in 2002 which now include 15 Huey II helicopters and three Cessna Caravan Aircraft.
Replying to a question, Johson disclosed that maintenance of these helicopters was under an agreement between Pakistan and US government. He said US government has engaged DynCorp International.
This organization is a global government services provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, delivering support solutions for defense, diplomacy, and international development and it is responsible for the maintenance of helicopters being used by the anti-narcotics forces in Pakistan.
On the question of reservations of Pakistan on the presence of DynCorp officials in Pakistan Johson clarified there is no option to change them in near future.
Highlighting some other salient features of Pak-US cooperation to fight against narcotics, Johson said, it has also resulted in completion of 200 outposts in the NWFP and FATA, benefiting Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary and Levis.
He said under this cooperation, a network of 335 km of border security roads in FATA has been completed. He said since 2002, the US has delivered more than dollars 40 million in equipment over 2,500 vehicles, communications equipments and surveillance gear to Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies.
Johson said over 10,000 law enforcement officers have been trained since 2002 while nearly 700 Levies completed specilised training.
He said about 8,000 protective barriers installed to harden strategic police stations, posts, and check-posts in the FATA and NWFP areas. He said 132 NWFP Elite Force commanders trained in civilian police leadership and human rights and use of force.
Johson said US and Pakistan have collaborated on counter-narcotics activities since 1980.
The cooperation, he said, effectively disrupt the supply of narcotics originating in Pakistan by supporting government of Pakistan’s interdiction programmes.
He said the cooperation also helped in 1,000 accompanying agricultural schemes and alternative crops projects in the areas where previously poppy was cultivated.
During his visit to Pakistan, David Johson held meetings with officials of Anti-Narcotics Agencies, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and other officials to exchanged views to further expand cooperation in the efforts of eradicating narcotics and eliminating poppy cultivation.