Says no to Drugs Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) Meets the Challenges

In 1957, Pakistan Narcotics Board (PNB) was established in the Revenue Division to fulfil Pakistan's obligations under the International Opium Convention of 1925. The PNB consisted of representatives from the provincial governments and some federal ministries and divisions. Pakistan ratified the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 on 15 August 1965. To meet its obligations under the said Convention, the government, through a declaration on March 8, 1973 renamed PNB as the Pakistan Narcotics Control Board (PNCB). In December 1991, Anti Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) was established. In February 1995, PNCB and ANTF were merged to constitute the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF), which is now the premier law enforcement agency in the field of narcotics control in Pakistan.

Pakistan's proximity to world's largest opium producing country, Afghanistan, makes it vulnerable to threat posed by the fallouts of illicit drug trade in the region. Afghanistan retained its position as the lead producer and cultivator of opium with more than 90% of global illicit opium production last year. In Afghanistan cultivation of opium poppy rose by 36% from 154,000 hectors to 209,000 hectors in 2013, whereas production of opium is expected to increase by 49% from 3700 Metric Tons to 5500 Metric Ton. If the total opium production in the world is converted into heroin, total global heroin production would be 576 tons, with 529 tons share of Afghanistan alone. Not only heroin, Afghanistan also stands at lead globally in cannabis production, with 1300 tons yield. This is a global threat and Pakistan along with few other neighbouring countries of Afghanistan are most affected. It would not be wrong to say that these countries are first respondents to save the world. The drug trade across Afghanistan border is too sophisticated for any one country or agency to address single handedly. However, in a short span of 19 years, ANF despite challenges has turned into a force to recon with both domestically and internationally. This article focuses on highlighting achievements of the ANF in year 2013. By far the year 2013 has been a watershed in performance of ANF. It has crossed all success marks of the past. While this gives satisfaction, it certainly raises the motivation of the Force to even perform better in years ahead.

ANF is running 25 Police Stations all-over the country. Presence of this force can be felt at all thirteen International Airports including Air Cargo Terminals, seventeen Dry Ports, three Sea Ports and seven border entry / exit points. This huge challenge is met by a meagre strength of 2500 personnel only.

Effective enforcement efforts by the Force in reducing drug flow to other countries during year 2013 also saw an all-time increased seizure of drugs which were destined abroad. The ANF is not only playing its role in curtailing inward and outward drug flows and preventing drug trafficking within its territorial jurisdiction by seizing the narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals, but is also coordinating eradication of illicit crops and stopping the production of narcotic drugs. Pakistan maintained its “Poppy Free Status” in 2013. The area under poppy cultivation after eradication was reported at 493 hectors; far less than 1000 hectors - the United Nations' criteria of declaring a country “Poppy-Free State”. On International Drug Day (26 June 2013), 126 tons of drugs were destroyed in “Drug Burning Ceremony”; the value of which comes to approximately Rs 9.3 billions.

Besides seizing drugs destined abroad, ANF is cooperating with international drug law enforcement agencies on all operational matters. Realizing the importance of sharing timely information, ANF had signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with 30 different countries of the world. In year 2013, International Controlled Delivery (ICD) operations initiated by ANF resulted into seizure of 50 kg heroin, 3000 kg hashish and 1000 kg cocaine in different parts of the world. ANF in 2013 also conducted joint operations with six countries of the world and was successful in seizing 362 kg of heroin, 15 kg of cocaine, 15 kg crystal and 5100 Diazepam tablets in destination countries. In 2013, ANF also assisted 26 other international drug law enforcement agencies of the world in 2,040 various international enquiries. ANF arrested 47 foreign drug smugglers in Pakistan in 2013. Seven Special Courts for trial of Anti Narcotics Force cases alone, are established in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Rawalpindi. Bringing criminals to the task through effective prosecution in the courts remained priority. In 2013, the conviction rate rose to applauding 92%. Fear of having 92 % chances of being convicted would surely forbid any sane person from falling prey into the hands of drug traffickers. In 2013, the value of frozen assets is Rs 126 million, whereas the value of forfeited assets is Rs 37.6 million. “The hardest blow to a drug trafficker is to transfer his proceeds to the National Account”, that's what is believed in ANF.

ANF, in addition to conducting operations, also focused on public awareness against the menace of drugs. In total 407 Drug Demand Reduction events in year 2013 were organized. Mainly categorized in “Mass Awareness Programmes” and “Community Participation Programmes”, 321 events were organized under the former category and 86 events in the latter. Lectures, seminars, walks, debates, sports’ events, quiz, painting, speech and poster competitions, tableaus and drama festivals, magic and puppet shows and musical programmes throughout the country were arranged to create awareness among the masses against the harms of drug addiction.

ANF is also running Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres in Quetta, Islamabad, Karachi and Adyalla Jail, Rawalpindi. These centres are contributing significantly towards drug treatment and rehabilitation of the addicts and 1,975 patients are treated during the 2013. Project 'Drug Free City Lahore' is a unique in itself which has contributed tremendously to the cause. ANF pays special attention towards professional, mental and physical brought up of its employees. Fresh batch of 54 officers joined the force in 2013 through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). First ever Officer Induction Training of these officers were undertaken by ANF in its own academy in 2013. This was a milestone activity which gave recognition to ANF Academy, both domestically and internationally. The new members now have to undergo an exhaustive training schedule of approximately six months before they are assigned their professional duties. 34 training courses were run in the Academy for 602 ANF officials including 312 personnel of other law enforcement agencies.

In spite of the progress achieved at home and abroad in terms of elimination of opium, poppy, and combating of illegal drugs by means of law enforcement, the picture in the neighbourhood of Pakistan remains distorted. Pakistan faces a serious threat on account of continuous and large-scale illicit cultivation, production and trafficking of opium, poppy, heroin and cannabis from Afghanistan. Ours is a victim country suffering both on account of drug trafficking as well as the pervasiveness of drug abuse due to inflow of Afghan opiates. ANF is committed to make Pakistan and the world a drug free society. It is a multi-faceted force, recognized internationally and domestically for being professional and stands prominent amongst world's leading Drug Law Enforcement Agencies.

It would be remiss to pay homage to our Shuhada, who laid their lives for better future of our society and new generations. The martyrs of ANF include Lt Col Ahmed Ali Shah, N Sub Muhammad Saleem, Hav Jahanzeb, Hav Farooq Ahmed, Sep Muhammad Sarfraz, N Sub Lal Zaman, Lnk Gul Fraz, Lnk Azad Khan, Sep Shoukat Ali Durrani and Sepoy Muhammad Niaz. We salute our brave comrades and honour their valour.

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