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Sunday, 07 - 13 September, 2014


The golden crescent and the economics of terrorism The symbiotic relationship between drug trafficking and organised crime Nasurullah Brohi The writer works as a Research Fellow at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan, and can be reached at:


t is a well known trend that without external support and huge finances none of the terrorist organisations and their insurgent activists could ever survive. terrorist organisations also receive money in the name of donations as mostly in our countries the donations are taken in the name of trusts and religious institutions. We often see small transparent plastic boxes fixed with the stickers containing the names of some unfamiliar religious trusts are kept in shops for the collection of charity and donations. And the people blindly put their money without knowing where it will actually go?

‘In the post Cold War era, the region where Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are located became more vulnerable and termed as the Golden Crescent because of the geographic location of these three states’ However, the financial support of militant groups does not always come through the collection of such small donations or any online fund transfers by some wealthy persons, but in fact, the mighty agencies of powerful states create a framework for supporting the terrorist organisations and organised crime groups. the aim behind such support of terrorist organisations and separatist groups is to destabilise the internal situation and create chaos inside the opponent states. the past role of intelligence agencies of various countries, especially great powers further worsened the situation when they deeply became involved in the patronage of gigantic drug trafficking groups. these agencies, through illicit drug traffickers, generated huge revenues and supported militant groups as their proxies to fight for their interests. During the Cold War, for the prevention of the soviet influence in the western parts of the Europe, the secret services of the superpower intervened in the internal politics of almost all the states in the region. For instance, the sicilian mafia was facilitated through a mechanism of drug trafficking and generating revenues for the underworld Corsican gangsters to battle Communist strikers and to limit the political gains of the Italian Communist party. Consequently, with the defeat of Communism and the end of the Cold War, the sicilian mafia and the Corsican underworld notably dominated the heroin trafficking not only in the Europe, but most of the heroin smuggled into the united states for many years. Following the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the soviet troops, the united states supported the Afghan resistance and spent more than $2 billion. the mujahedin guerrillas gradually started getting control over the territory inside the Afghanistan. the local peasants were encouraged to plant poppy crops as a revolutionary tax and within a couple of years, hundreds of heroin laboratories were created across the border. today, despite the efforts of the Afghan government and IsAF forces, over 200,000 hectares of Afghan fields grow poppies and remain at the highest level followed by Myanmar which devoted more than 51,000 hectares for poppy cultivation. According to the World Economic Forum, the global trade of heroin and opium in 2013 worth more than $60 billion. And for sure it will grow following the withdrawal of IsAF forces by the end of 2014. In the post Cold War era, the region where Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are located became more vulnerable and termed as the Golden Crescent because of the geographic location of these three states. the Golden Crescent countries are facing the peril of illicit trafficking of narcotics. Each country has a diverged dilemma, in Afghanistan, the mighty warlords who exercise their power within the government and in the local population have the monopoly over the narcotic-drug trade. In Pakistan the so-called sardars, Malaks and to some corrupt

politicians have their share in the business. unlike these two countries Iran’s case is quite diverse where the ordinary people mostly living in the slums of sistan and Baluchistan are involved in the narcotic business. these three states are also considered one of the biggest smuggling routes of illicit opium and narcotics to the rest of the world. Moreover, the drug traffickers instead of using the southern routes through Pakistan mostly rely on northern routes via Central Asian states. this route has turned out to be very important in the global drug trade. this is mostly because of poor border controls and largescale migration among former soviet states. Apart from that, normally there is also a natural nexus between terrorism and organised crime, including drug trafficking. Linkages between terrorist organisations and drug traffickers are multifaceted, one provides the other with facilitation, protection, hauling. this dirty connection between drug traffickers and terrorist organisations benefit both sides. the drug traffickers benefit from armed skills, weapons supply, and relationships to covert groups or mafia through terrorist organisations. Both groups also exploit the services of corrupt officials who provide them greater access to fake passports and customs credentials. Moreover, terrorist organisations have more expertise and are conscious about security agencies and they have very sound networks to mobilise the drugs and get real time intelligence and information. the outcomes of international drug traffic on society are very hazardous because the whole mechanism consequently yields in money laundering, creating internal instability and promoting corruption in the countries. the illegal usage of drugs and its negative consequences are considered as universal issues since they have affected countries over the globe throughout the years. Most of the separatist movements and terrorist organisations either use drug trafficking or kidnapping for ransom as a source of their revenue generation. the drugs and terror have a relationship that is much symbiotic because these both have commonly controlled networks which allow them to receive huge revenues to carry on their insurgency and pave a mode of means for non-state actors to free themselves from the influence of state sponsorship.

‘Illicit trafficking of narcotics and drug abuse is also a gargantuan challenge for Pakistan. The country is encountering the nuisance of drug traffickers due to its extraordinary geographic position of being at the gateway to South Asia and the rest of the world and its location in the immediate neighborhood of the source of production’ Illicit trafficking of narcotics and drug abuse is also a gargantuan challenge for Pakistan. the country is encountering the nuisance of drug traffickers due to its extraordinary geographic position of being at the gateway to south Asia and the rest of the world and its location in the immediate neighborhood of the source of production. Pakistan is also one of the most victimised countries at the hands of terrorism and is still suffering from the curse. Realising the fact and keeping in mind the nexus between narcotic-drug traders and terrorist organisations, Pakistan’s anti narcotics strategy has proven successful and vigilant in checking the trafficking and funding of illicit drugs and terrorists. the complex relationship between drug traffickers and terrorist groups demands further need of analytic framework and counter-narcotics strategies by agencies responsible for the enforcement of drug laws. ultimately, the bottom-line of successful prevention of organized crime, terrorism and the drug trafficking lies in the accuracy of real time information, technological advancement and the willingness to stop the menace. the collective effort by regional and global states is the need of the hour in countering this problem. It is the responsibility of regional states in particular and the international community in general to stop this hazard and its harmful consequences from reaching the people. g

Crisis in pakistan

It is all about the hair, and incompetence

White Noise The writer keeps making noise that sooner or later everyone tunes off.


ust when it seemed that negotiations might bring about an end to the political crisis that has engulfed the country in recent weeks, the situation was thrown into complete disarray once again as the PtI and PAt changed their principle demand. Instead of now asking for the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz sharif on charges of election fraud, the leadership of the two parties has called on the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar to get a proper haircut. A senior PtI official told us, “We have shown extreme flexibility in withdrawing our demand for the prime minister’s resignation, but we can come to no agreement with the current administration until Nisar sahib loses his mop top. the people of Pakistan deserve to have leaders who do not resemble extras in a Punjabi action film.” unsurprisingly, this new ultimatum was met with fierce resistance from the government. “somebody needs to tell Imran Khan that this is Pakistan not toni and Guy”, thundered Railways Minister Khawaja saad Rafique. “Bad curls are as much our constitutional right as my Village People moustache. We will do nothing that defies the constitution of this country. If that means having to look like the embarrassing cousins of the Brady Bunch then so be it.” Maulana Fazal-urRehman, currently part of the PML-N led coalition, also expressed his incredulity. “What next? Will they ask us to wash our faces before attending Parliament or to stop wearing clothes from the 1970s and creased in all the wrong places,” he told a press conference. According to sources the new demands have raised tensions within PML-N ranks. Many are understood to want Nisar to adopt a new hairstyle for the sake of the country and their eyesight. “20 years I’ve had to look at him like that Imran and Dr Qadri have got a point - a Naya Pakistan must mean naye baal for Nisar,” said one senior functionary who did not want to be named. so far the interior minister has

refused to countenance a change in his coiffure and has been left bemused as to why he has been singled out by the protestors when the party leader, Nawaz sharif, has little hair to speak of and a combover that would make even Donald trump wince. Meanwhile, there are unconfirmed reports that leading western countries have offered to send a delegation of some of the top hairstylists in the world, including Akin Konizi and Andrew Collinge, to help break the deadlock and ensure that all the principal players can have more refined, more conditioned and more beautiful hair. there was however some agreement among political ranks as politicians belonging to all parties reassured the public that as soon as the crisis was over, they would go back to being incompetent and corrupt. “Obviously, the current dharna has distracted us from our shady deals, tax avoidance and wasting the tax-payers’ money on vanity projects, but the people of this nation should rest assured that as soon as things return to normal we too will strive again to appropriate as much as we can from this gloriously depleted nation,” said one MNA we spoke to. “People tend to forget that the noblest form of politics is serving one’s own vested interests. No amount of protests calling for change can curtail the excellence of this ideal. the PML-N will once again lead the Parliament in the highest forms of unscrupulousness,” said a government official who asked not to be named. Even the Chairman of the PtI, Imran Khan, was able to agree with these sentiments. “Well, I try to talk with a straight bat but obviously I bowl my yorkers well wide of the wicket of decency and good virtue. there is a lot of prize money to be had in government and I assure my supporters that we will claim it for ourselves whether or not we win the toss, match or series,” said the cricketerturned-cricketing-metaphorist before bad light ended his meeting with the press. One person we interviewed was delighted by the news. “It’s really disconcerting to think that our politicians are not bleeding us dry at the moment. I for one am happy to hear that soon my voice as a Pakistani citizen will once again no longer matter. Siyasatdan zindabad and death to Israel and America,” exclaimed Akbar Javaid of Faisalabad. If issues of hairstyles and governance can be resolved, then there is no reason that many like him will not get to see their wishes come true. g 07

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