FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Afghan drugs via Pakistan corroding Punjab society
Posted:Mar 6, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Amitava Mukherjee
 
It is heartening that both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) , two major contestants in the recently held Punjab assembly poll, have taken note of the drug menace which has been devouring Punjabi society for quite some time and has become the most serious social question that will need to be addressed by the next government.  
 
The Shiromoni Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combination has also raised its voice against the malady but being the ruling combine it has been subjected to relentless attacks by the opposition parties over the drug menace issue.
 
The problem is serious and deep rooted and is likely to cast its spell on the election result. Therefore, Arvind Kejriwal’s claim that the “AAP would break the supply chain of drugs within one month” (after coming to power) sounds a bit bombastic. After all, Kejriwal’s own estimate is that there are 40 lakh drug addicts in Punjab and the supply chain catering to such a huge number of clients must be labyrinthine in character. Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, basing his calculation on a survey, has also observed that around 70 percent of the Punjabi youth are now addicted to drugs.
 
But the more alarming news for Punjab is that Afghanistan has been witnessing bumper production of poppy since 2014. Afghanistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan produce the biggest amount of opium in the world. Afghanistan enjoys another dubious record -- it is the biggest illicit opium production centre in the world producing 4,600 tonnes of the world’s 6,000 tonnes per year.
 
Most of Afghanistan’s illicit opium production is dumped and processed in Pakistan. Landi Kotal, a small town in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), has become an important entrepot in this business where several refineries have come up for processing Afghan consignments and producing heroin which has now become the most favoured drug among the Punjabi youth. It may be interesting to know that a good number of Chinese chemists are known to have been employed in such refineries.
 
In spite of earnest efforts by the Indian government and the state government of Punjab, the meandering course of the Ravi and Sutlej -- particularly the 17 kilometre-long unfenced stretch of these two rivers -- is standing in the way of any successful operation against smuggling of drugs into Punjab. In addition continuous diminishing returns from the agricultural sector in the Indian side of Punjab have made farmers susceptible to offers from smugglers operating from Pakistan. Nowadays, the common practice adopted by Pakistani smugglers is to stuff drugs into 18-20 inch-long plastic pipes and hang them across the barbed wire border fences. These are picked up by members from the agricultural community on the Indian side.
 
The danger lies in the fact that the terrorist-smuggler nexus has penetrated the Indian security apparatus. Immediately after the attack on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, doubts were raised about the role of a senior Punjab Police officer. In 2013 and 2014, at least 70 police personnel were found cooperating with drug smugglers and in 2014 alone, 13 police officials, including a Deputy Superintendent of Police, were sacked from service for this reason.
 
 Punjab is now reeling under a pervading drug racket of which heroin trade has the biggest share. According to a survey by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), more than 8.6 lakh people in the state are opioid users with about 2.3 lakh people being opioid dependent.
 
The NDDTC estimate has come to the conclusion that Rs 7,500 crore worth of opioids are consumed by dependent individuals in Punjab each year. Of this, heroin’s share is 53 percent. Moreover, as much as Rs 1,400 are spent by an individual heroin addict each day on an average while the corresponding figure for an opium addict is Rs 340. Among men belonging to the 18-35 years age group, four out of every 100 are opioid dependent and 15 out of every 100 are opioid users.
 
If we go into the economics of the drug trade in the Golden Crescent comprising Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, then the enormity of the problem faced by India becomes crystal clear. Afghanistan produces 550-600 tonnes of heroin each year and 10 tonnes of it reach the Indian market via Pakistan. In Pakistan, one kilogram of pure heroin fetches Rs 1-2 lakh. In Indian Punjab, the price jumps to Rs 3 lakh per kilogram. In Delhi, the same amount of heroin is priced around Rs 8-10 lakh and in Mumbai the price shoots up to Rs 15-20 lakh per kilogram.
 
In the light of a definite linkage between drugs and terrorism in Punjab, the finding by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) that opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab each year has come as a matter of grave concern.
 
It is no use denying that export of terror and drugs to India is getting direct patronage from successive Pakistani ruling establishments. It is time that all the political parties in Punjab discard hyperbole and put their heads together so that the strategically important state is saved from destruction.
 
(Amitava Mukherjee is a senior journalist and commentator. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to: editor@spsindia.in)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
A Pakistani minister set the proverbial cat amongst India’s foreign policy establishment by announcing that Pakistan was thinking of constitutional changes to make Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.
 
read-more
India is well on course to embracing the change brought in by the agent of change -- PM Modi, writes Sanjay Kumar Kar for South Asia Monitor.  
 
read-more
To build a better future for all, the government in Dhaka will have to think about how to ensure inclusive education for all in the country, writes Minhazur Rahman Rezvi for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
spotlight image 'Covert military actions or surgical strikes against terror launch pads in Pakistan have limited utility that won't change the mind of the Pakistan Army or the ISI  which sponsor cross-border terrorism
 
read-more
In Dutch politics, alliances are imperative to construct an administration. The post-election government formation is, therefore, a slightly time-consuming process. In due course, a coalition led by the incumbent Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, will surface.  
 
read-more
Japan is a special country in several ways. For centuries, it remained isolated and disconnected with the outside world. But once it opened itself up to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854 by the use of force by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry of the United States Navy, Japan has never looked back. Japan is a spe
 
read-more
Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and earlier under the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdallah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia has rolled out a series of women-friendly initiatives.  Recently, under the leadership of Custodian of the
 
read-more
spotlight image Arun Jaitley, with his legal and political acumen, is the best bet for Narendra Modi after Manohar Parrikar, who could also understand technological as well as financial demands of the defence ministry.           
 
read-more
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Column-image

Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive