The Pakistan Army and the Taliban are connected to the narcotics trade in a ‘unholy’ way, according to a NATO investigation. The Defence Education Enhancement Program’s (DEEP) paper focuses on the expansion of the drug trade coming from both Kabul and Islamabad, as well as the relationship that has developed between drug trafficking and terrorism. The narco-trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan was facilitated by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military intelligence organisation of Pakistan, according to a 2022 study titled ‘Narco-Insecurity, Inc’. According to the research, the ISI carried out a number of covert operations in collaboration with jihadist organisations that shared its goals. These organisations all largely relied on drug trafficking to finance their terrorist activities, according to South Asia Press.
Insurgency funded by illegal drug trade
One of the biggest funding sources for the insurgent organisations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to the research, is the illegal drug trade. Additionally, it fuels worldwide narco-terror. State-building, stability, and democratic governance in Afghanistan and the region are primarily hampered by Pakistan-Afghanistan heroin networks, drug lords, and their connections to the Taliban and Pakistan’s military.
Numerous arrests of Pakistani citizens on drug trafficking-related offences in several nations serve as confirmation of Islamabad’s complicity in the spread of drugs. Furthermore, smuggling networks have apparently been formed by Pakistan in India during the past few years, particularly in the Kashmir region. According to South Asia Press, this network provides a consistent supply of drugs and weaponry. Additionally, for a very long time, the Taliban’s primary source of income was drug sales. According to South Asia Press, the terror organisation now controls opium growing in Afghanistan after taking over the country last year.
The drug trade’s importance in Pakistan and Afghanistan
According to a study released in November 2021 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan was responsible for 85% of the world’s opium production in 2020 and provided 80% of the drug’s customers. Morphine, opium, and heroin together accounted for 9% of Afghanistan’s 14% GDP in 2020.
The South Asia Press reports that manufacturing of methamphetamine and cannabis, two additional important substances, has increased in Afghanistan in recent years. 2,400 kilometres of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan are generally porous. Drug traffickers have used the border as a route for their transportation. The research claims that before drugs reach worldwide markets, they transit through Pakistan in large quantities. Meth and opiates are smuggled from Afghanistan to the Torkham border crossing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa division of the country, where they are then transited to Lahore and Faisalabad and reassembled into sizable consignments, according to South Asia Press.