Launch of Phase II of the Maritime Security Project – funded by the U.S. Government

Karachi, (TW) – The Government of Pakistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) launched ‘Improved National Response against Drugs and Contraband Trafficking in the Maritime Domain (Phase II).’ This initiative funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) is a twelve-month endeavor aimed at enhancing Pakistan’s maritime capabilities to combat drug and contraband trafficking.  This project will be jointly implemented by UNODC Pakistan (COPAK) and UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP).

The ceremony was co-chaired by Rear Admiral of Pakistan Navy Imtiaz Ali – Director General Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), and Chargé d’affaires (CDA) of the United States Mission in Pakistan Andrew Schofer who joined with other notable dignitaries from UNODC, INL, Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG), and the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). 

While warmly welcoming the participants, Dr. Jeremy Milsom, UNODC COPAK representative highlighted UNODC’s collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control during the design and implementation of the Phase I Project (October 2020 to March 2023). He noted, “UNODC is adopting a holistic approach to support the Government of Pakistan in addressing diverse drugs and crime challenges more effectively both domestically and by fostering Pakistan’s partnership at various regional and international forums. While fully aligned with UNODC’s global and country strategies, this Phase II project would greatly complement the government’s vision and ongoing efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s border management, drug supply reduction, and the rule of law – aimed at creating a secure environment for the Pakistani people”, said Dr. Milsom.

Mr. David O’Connell, GMCP’s Programme Coordinator, delivered a comprehensive presentation on the threat dynamics related to the smuggling of drugs and other items through Pakistan.  He highlighted the achievements of the Phase I Project which aligned with the Government of Pakistan’s strategic priorities for border management.  Additionally, Mr. O’Connell provided an overview of the Phase II Project, detailing its intended outcomes such as ‘Improvements to interagency coordination between Pakistan’s maritime law enforcement agencies’; enhancing cooperation between Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies and their regional counterparts; and increasing the capability of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in detecting, deterring, and disrupting drugs and contraband trafficking through coastal areas and maritime domain. 

In his remarks, CDA Andrew Schofer emphasized that insuring a secure maritime environment is not only a priority for Pakistan, but a global imperative, as drug trafficking and smuggling contribute to instability and jeopardize the security of nations worldwide.  The CDA noted “By confronting these issues head-on, we are contributing to a safer and more prosperous future for all” while highlighting the 77 years of partnership between the Governments of the United States and Pakistan, and the 42 years of the U.S. Mission to Pakistan’s security assistance through INL.  “I look forward to the roundtable discussion and hope we may identify areas for greater collaboration that can benefit Pakistan’s maritime security and help to make the country a safer, more prosperous, and drug-free nation” added CDA Schofer.   

In his remarks, Rear Admiral Imtiaz Ali elaborated that due to its geographical disposition, Pakistan has long been exposed to the negative impacts of illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances from Afghanistan. He noted, “As a signatory to the three United Nations drug conventions, the Government of Pakistan envisions a healthier Pakistani nation – that is free from the menace of drug trafficking and the ill effects on health caused by using narcotics drugs. Opiates and synthetic drugs produced in Afghanistan are transported through the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean to various destination countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Pakistan, therefore, continues to serve as the first line of defense against a massive outflow of narcotic drugs from Afghanistan – that threatens security throughout our region and beyond. The Government of Pakistan is addressing this issue with resilience – to protect our society, and at the same time, shielding the rest of the world”, said Rear Admiral Imtiaz Ali.

The project launch was followed by a roundtable discussion hosted by CDA Andrew Schofer. It reviewed current and emerging threats, lessons learned, and recommendations for UNODC’s capacity development in Pakistan. Ms. Lori Antolinez, Director of U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s INL Program concluded the roundtable by thanking the senior leadership of Pakistani ministries and maritime law enforcement for their candid views and emphasized the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to partnering with Pakistan’s law enforcement and maritime security agencies.

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