ARX Mouldings has been following reports that Pakistan is situated at the cusp of an important geographical area which is famous on many accounts. Besides its geostrategic significance the area around Pakistan is prone to illegal smuggling especially narco-smuggling.
Afghanistan, our neighbour, is one of the most fertile territories for opium growth and according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report since takeover of Taliban in year 2021, the opium growth has surged by 32 percent.
This opium and other drugs traverse through Pakistani area and reach at sea for market onwards to Europe. The route is sometimes also referred to as Hash Highway. Pakistan takes all possible measures to curb the tendency both on land and at sea and often we hear the news of confiscation of this illegal merchandise within Pakistani territory.
At sea and along the coast, Pakistan Navy as well as Pakistan Maritime Security Agency have been mostly active in stopping such illegal activities, of course with the help of an elaborate intelligence network. To an estimate, during the last two years Pakistan Navy (PN) and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) have been able to confiscate over 12000 kg of narcotics and 4000 bottles of liquor worth billions of rupees from open sea and the coast. Such measures not only save the humanity from this curse but also the country from incurring bad name.
Pakistan Navy has been cognisant of its responsibility for maritime security of the area under its jurisdiction which is Pakistani territory. But besides that Pakistan Navy has also acted very responsibly for the safety and security of the region. It’s the first regional navy that joined coalition maritime forces CTF-150 which was established against maritime terrorism. Later in year 2009, Pakistan Navy also joined CTF-151 which was established against the piracy. Pakistan Navy is the only navy in the world, which has commanded these task forces for most of the time. The performance of these task forces has been significant in maintaining peace in the regional waters.
The navy has also been cognisant of the requirements for fighting menaces of security and drug trafficking as well as tackling emergencies at sea. A novel idea of Joint Maritime Information Coordination Centre (JMICC) was conceived and materialised in year 2013 which is functioning optimally. The concept of JMICC is to coordinate vital information amongst all the stakeholders both domestic and international about any such happening in our waters. It is equipped with state of the art gadgets and works round the clock.
The JMICC has been pivotal in saving precious lives and checking attempts for smuggling especially the narco-trafficking. The conduct of Regional Security Maritime Patrol (RSMP) is yet another initiative that Pakistan Navy has undertaken for the safety and security of the high seas. Under this overall concept, Pakistan Navy maintains permanent presence at sea through its platforms to ensure visibility and security of the area.
In order to garner regional and international cooperation and generate interoperability at sea Pakistan Navy also organises Exercise AMAN biennially. Navies from around the world gather under the banner of “Together for Peace” and hone their professional skills to fight the ills at sea together. Pakistan Navy also conducts port calls regularly especially to the regional countries to assure its continued cooperation and will in tackling common issues such as drug and illicit items trafficking.
This gesture is also reciprocated by these navies which has generated lot of goodwill amongst the littorals. The bilateral exercises during such voyages are a routine matter. The vigilance maintained by Pakistan Navy has paid off and many attempts of illegal trafficking have been made futile with the laden confiscated while the culprits apprehended. All this exercise has brought good name to the country and regional navies rely on the mechanism instituted by Pakistan Navy at sea as well as along the coast.
After hasty exit from Afghanistan by the US, the situation there is in turmoil. As cited earlier, the UNODC report is alarming and demands concrete steps to check the possibility of growing trafficking of illicit material. As the poppy cultivation grows so will be its trafficking. There has to be effective countermeasure for such a situation and Pakistan Navy hails as the only regional navy having requisite experience to effectively arrest the situation. With its rich experience in counter trafficking and many success stories on its credit Pakistan Navy bears great responsibility to come up to the expectations of partnering nations, which it is hoped to fulfil as per its meritorious traditions.