Pakistan is a lost state; the most heroin-addicted country in the world, reeling from an epidemic of hardcore drug abuse. According to the report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Drug Use in Pakistan, there are 10 million people who use illicit substances, of which 7 million are considered drug-dependent.  It is estimated that up to 44 tons of processed heroin is consumed in Pakistan annually and a further 110 tons of heroin and morphine is trafficked through Pakistan to international markets generating $2 billion a year.

Pakistan is actively involved in spreading narco-terrorism. Various reports have suggested that Pakistan’s drug syndicate runs a parallel economy in connivance with select elements of the political and military establishments. The funds generated from the sale of narcotics are being used to fund terror activities in Kashmir. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency is patronizing some smuggling syndicates as part of a ‘hybrid warfare’ strategy against India. India which is sandwiched between the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle is, therefore, an easy target.

Pakistan Military & Narcotics trade

The role of Pakistan’s politicians and military in narcotics trade was accepted by none other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

According to a 1994 report in Washington Post; then Opposition leader Sharif claimed that three months after his election as prime minister in November 1990, Gen. Aslam Beg, then army chief of staff, and Gen. Asad Durrani, then head of the military’s (ISI), told him the armed forces needed more money for covert foreign operations and wanted to raise it through large-scale drug deals.

Though the army mandarins named by Sharif denied allegations, the fact of the matter is that Pak Army and its intelligence wing- Inter-Services Intelligence- are believed to be still engaged in narco-terrorism with the active support of the government.

Narco-terror network Lashkar-e-Khorasan being used by Pakistan for ethnic cleansing

is using the narco-terror network Lashkar-e-Khorasan for ethnic cleansing, an American war veteran who has seen action in and Iraq, has said.

In his article published in Family Security Matters, US Army Reserve Col. (Retired) Lawrence Sellin says this outfit kills in the name of religion and operates with the approval of 

“Lashkar-e-Khorasan is part of a narco-terrorist network, fueled by the opium trade and operates with the tacit approval of the government,” says Sellin in his article titled “Uses Islamic State for opium-fuelled ethnic cleansing”.

Col. (Retired) Sellin further states in his article that the designated role of the Lashkar-e-Khorasan in southwest Balochistan has been to kill members of the secular independence movement and cleanse Balochistan of Sufi Zikris, Shia Hazaras, Hindus, Christians, Ahahmadis, Sikhs or anyone else who refuses to convert to the extreme form of Sunni Islam.

Innovative methods to smuggle drugs:

  • Using trained scuba divers

Narcotics smugglers from Pakistan have started using trained divers to cross the International Border (IB) into Indian Punjab. After the Border Security Force (BSF) stepped up its vigil, smugglers have started employing divers to navigate a 35km riverine area in Punjab’s Ferozpur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar sectors of the IB.

The new method to pump drugs into the state was discovered during the interrogation of a peddler, who said his consignment was delivered to him by a diver. Trained divers, equipped with complete gear, were using Satluj and Ravi rivers to enter Punjab. These divers reportedly carry a trans-border communication through WhatsApp.

Narcotic drugs are the most lucrative commodity that generates quick money without paperwork. The business transaction is done in hard cash and no document is left as evidence for legal action. The drug proceeds are laundered through numerous legal and illegal financial institutions and petty business enterprises. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), laser walls and thermal images are recently introduced along with larger deployment of men along the border to squeeze out the drug supply.

BSF, which guards a 553km (518 km land and 33 km riverine) stretch of the IB along Punjab, has seized 729 kg narcotics (mostly heroin) worth hundreds of crores in the past three years.

  • Airdropping contraband into Indian villages along the Punjab border with the help of drones

Plastic bags consisting of narcotic substances are being dropped across the fence using small drones.

·       New sea route

The modus operandi of drug trafficking has changed, from the land across borders with Pakistan, drugs are smuggled into the country through the sea route. From Mandvi port in Kutch district it is sent to Unjha in small quantities to be packed with cumin seeds for the onward journey in trucks via Rajasthan.

·       Using cross-border irrigation network

The BSF personnel also found smugglers using tube wells for supplying drugs into the Indian side. The plastic pipe of a tube well is used to supply heroin in bottles (so that it looked like ‘lassi’) as the field was located beyond the fence. A string is seen attached to the bottles to help local smugglers to pull them out at the other end.

·       Use of Pakistani SIM Cards

To evade surveillance smugglers use Pakistani SIM cards along the border fence area to form a smuggling ring.


Factors working in favor of Pakistani smugglers

·       Easy availability of couriers who are paid up to 60,000 for each courier.

·       Well knit syndicate overseeing operations.

·        Non-availability of pucca roads, poor infrastructure for border floodlights.

Death for pot?

Several countries have carried out or legislated capital punishment for cannabis trafficking. (Wikipedia)

Country Status Notes
Saudi Arabia Has been used An Iraqi man named Mattar bin Bakhit al-Khazaali was convicted of smuggling hashish in the northern town of Arar, close to the Iraqi border and was executed in 2005.
Indonesia Has been used In 1997, the Indonesian government added the death penalty as a punishment for those convicted of drugs in their country. The law has yet to be enforced on any significant, well-established drug dealers.


The former Indonesian President, Megawati Sukarnoputri announced Indonesia’s intent to implement a fierce war on drugs in 2002. She called for the execution of all drug dealers. “For those who distribute drugs, life sentences and other prison sentences are no longer sufficient,” she said. “No sentence is sufficient other than the death sentence.” Indonesia’s new president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also proudly supports executions for drug dealers.

Malaysia Has been used Mustaffa Kamal Abdul Aziz, 38 years old, and Mohd Radi Abdul Majid, 53 years old, were executed at dawn on January 17, 1996, for the trafficking of 1.2 kilograms of cannabis.
Philippines No longer imposed:Extrajudicial killings now commonplace The Philippines abolished the death penalty on June 24, 2006. Previously, the Philippines had introduced stronger anti-drug laws, including the death penalty, in 2002. Possession of over 500grams of marijuana usually earned execution in the Philippines, as did possess over ten grams of opium, morphine, heroin, ecstasy, or cocaine. Angeles City is often a Vatican for Filipino cannabis users and cultivators, although enforcement has been inconsistent.
United Arab Emirates Sentenced In the United Arab Emirates city of Fujairah, a woman named Lisa Tray was sentenced to death in December 2004, after being found guilty of possessing and dealing hashish. Undercover officers in Fujairah claim they caught Tray with 149 grams of hashish. Her lawyers have appealed the sentence.


In July 2012, a 23-year-old British man Nathaniel Lees, and an unnamed 19-year-old Syrian citizen was sentenced to death for attempting to sell 20 grams (about 3/4 of an ounce) of marijuana to an undercover officer in Dubai.

Singapore Frequently used Death penalty has been carried out many times for cannabis trafficking. (July 20, 2004) A convicted drug trafficker, Raman Selvam Renganathan who stored 2.7 kilograms of cannabis or marijuana in a Singapore flat was hanged in Changi Prison. He was sentenced to death on September 1, 2003 after an eight-day trial. (The Straits Times, July 20, 2004).
People’s Republic of China Frequently used Death penalty is exercised regularly for drug tradings under Chinese law, often in an annual frenzy corresponding to the United Nations’ International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking. The government does not make precise records public, however, Amnesty International estimates that around 500 people are executed there each year for drug offenses. Those executed have typically been convicted of smuggling or trafficking in anything from cannabis to methamphetamine.
United States Never imposed While current US federal law allows for the death penalty for those who have extraordinary amounts of the drug (60,000 kilograms or 60,000 plants) or are part of a continuing criminal enterprise in smuggling contraband which nets over $20 million, the United States Supreme Court has held that no crimes other than murder and treason can constitutionally carry a death sentence.

Fighting narco-terrorism

The government crackdown has so far targeted small-time drug peddlers, but deep smuggling networks that cross international, as well as state borders, remain intact, posing a major national security threat. The Border Security Force, which guards the India-Pakistan border, has taken various steps to check the smuggling across most of the international border, including:

  •  electrifying the fencing;
  • deploying sensors, night-vision devices and hand-held thermal imaging devices to detect cross-border movements;
  • increasing the number of human observation border posts;
  • floodlighting the border;
  • deploying BSF jawans as ‘Kisan Guards’ to keep watch on farmers whose lands lie near the fencing; and
  • engaging with the border communities to keep track of suspected couriers.


ISI drug networks are spread from Gujrat to J&K. The rise in drug addiction in these states has set alarm bells ringing. A multi-pronged approach, focussing on capacity-building, better border management, better implementation of the counter-narcotic regulations and a sustained de-addiction campaign is required to eliminate the increasing drug menace haunting the Indian western borders where an entire generation of youth is wiped out because of drug abuse. Stricter actions need to be taken against Pakistan’s modus operandi, which is shamelessly minting money at the cost of dying youth. The fact that Pakistan has swallowed its own youth in jihad and drugs leaves no hope for it to mend its ways.

08 Oct 2018/Monday                                                                         Written by   Afsana