Pakistan in the quagmire of drugs and guns

The geographic location of Pakistan makes it an extremely important state in the global war on terror. Pakistan being a frontline state in the global war on terror has to deal with terrorism, extremism and sectarian violence. The Soviet – Afghan war had been a catalyst in shaping a culture of drugs and guns in the region.  Some international observers see Pakistan as a ‘wounded nation hurt by both friends and foes.’ Some inappropriate US policies during the Soviet- Afghan jihad have acted as the key causes of terrorism in Pakistan.  ‘The Golden Crescent Drug Trade’ has always been subject to criticism because the Afghan narcotic society was intelligently used to bleed the Soviets.  United States and its allies against the Soviets failed to consider the reverse side of the drugs and weapons for the region. Opium production was expanded to afflict the Stationed Soviet forces, consequently some of the Soviet soldiers became drug addicts.

The Soviet- Afghan war transformed the Pak- Afghan border into the world biggest heroine manufacturing zone.  Approximately 1.2 million people became victims of heroine by 1985. Consequently KP province, due its close proximity With Afghanistan emerged as a key producer of opium. Paradoxically, the decline in heroine production did not decrease its domestic consumption. The ineffectiveness of the Pakistani political system had caused the smugglers to take refuge in the country. Another reason for the flow of drugs in our society was that the new Islamic regime in Iran declared intoxicants illegal.  Therefore, the drug dealers in Iran shifted their laboratories to Baluchistan.  The three million Afghan refugees who came to Pakistan were also accompanied by heroine manufacturers and dealers, who setup their manufacturing plants in NWFP and Baluchistan. Heroin trade was declared illegal by Zia-ul- Haq yet, it continued to flourish.

The Afghan – jihad turned Pakistan into a rallying point for warriors from all parts of the world. Some international observers contend that Pakistan has experienced an unmatched rise in terrorism if compared to South Africa and China who have witnessed similar terrorist activities. Pakistan played a crucial role as an ally in transmitting an estimated US $ 8.7 billion weapons aid to the Afghan warriors.  As the Soviet – Afghan war came to a close most of the weapons had diffused inside Pakistan into the hands of criminals, terrorists and some sectarian groups. The Regan administration provided the Afghan warriors with some of the lethal weapons without realizing its flipside. There were fears that some of these lethal weapons may get lost in the battle field.  The U.S intelligence had suggested the probability of stringer missiles falling in the hands of terrorists and being ultimately used against the US. The U.S administration signed the stringer missiles agreement with the Afghan warriors ignoring all such probabilities. These stringers were later used in some parts of the world by the belligerents.

It is absolutely true and it sounds reasonable that Pakistan has been hurt by both friends and foes. The bitter rivalry between the Iranians and the Saudi’s resulted in a massive flow of money into Pakistan in support of their respective communities. Karachi being a host to all communities experienced not only a high crime rate but also frequent sectarian and ethnic clashes.  In the view of some observers all the blame cannot be fastened on the international community particularly the United States. General Zia-ul Haq after facing much criticism from the Regan administration for his austerity needed international legitimacy. Pakistan at that point in time needed protection from India on one side and the Soviet occupied Afghanistan establishing close ties with India on the other.  Thus forming an alliance with the U.S seemed convincing in every manner. Resultantly not only Zia gained international legitimacy but there was an excessive flow of aid besides F-16 fighter bombers against any Indian aggression.

United States and Pakistan have been associated in fields of education, energy, trade, investment and security.  United States remains to be one of the most significant sources of foreign direct investment FDI to Pakistan.  The U.S civilian assistance to Pakistan centers on mainly five areas energy, economic growth, agriculture, health and education.  The United States provided $ 5 million in FY 2016 to upgrade the professionalism of the Pakistan military.

Pakistan has been a recipient of USAID yet there seems dissatisfaction among the masses particularly the youth with the United States. Anti – American sentiments have been on the rise after Pakistan joined the US war on terror.  Paradoxically a large number of Pakistani’s fascinated by their American dream have left Pakistan.  According to recent figures an estimated 500,000 members of the Pakistani diaspora live in the United States. Both Pakistan and the United States need to invest in the Pakistani youth realizing their vulnerability to the terrorism industry which subsists on manpower.  There has been a lack of transparency in Pakistan thus the massive USAID received so far has been mostly ineffective.

Today Pakistan seems lost in the quagmire of drugs, guns and terrorism.  Poor people often find it extremely difficult to send their children to schools. Pakistan is experiencing a high rate of school drop outs. According to a last year’s report 12.3 million primary school children are out of school. Furthermore there are no substantial programs for youth employment hence young frustrated people are often compelled to indulge in ant- social activities. Pakistan being a recipient of USAID needs to adopt some sustainable employment schemes for its youth. Likewise the United States must realize how vulnerable the poor uneducated and unemployed young people are to the terrorism industry. History reveals that the young refugee men from Afghanistan with no formal education were left with the option of becoming warriors. The Soviet- Afghan war shaped a culture of weapons, warring parties and drugs in the region. A large number of unemployed youth chose to fight in Afghanistan to earn a living. According to a recent report an estimated eight million people in Pakistan are drug addicts. Hence the Pakistani government needs to realize that it cannot fight terrorism until and unless it ignores the social development of its youth.



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