Inauguration ceremony of eight-week maritime training courses and mentoring sessions commenced.
KARACHI : United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Country Office in Pakistan (COPAK) organized an inauguration ceremony of an eight-week maritime training and mentoring session in Karachi. Ms. Humaira Ahmed – Federal Secretary, Ministry of Narcotics Control graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The ceremony was also attended by Major General Aneeq Malik – Director General of the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF); Mr. Muhammad Yaqoob Mako – Chief Collector (Operations), Pakistan Customs Enforcement (South) Karachi, Mr. Usman Bajwa – Customs Collector (Preventive) Karachi; Brigadier Ghulam Abbas – Director General Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG) Karachi; Mr. Liam O’Flanagan – Deputy Consul General of United States of America’s Consulate in Karachi; and Dr. Jeremy Milsom – Representative of UNODC COPAK.
The inauguration ceremony marked the commencement of eight-week’s of bulk-carrier search and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) training courses to be held in Karachi from 30 January to 24 March 2023. These training and mentoring sessions are being conducted under the framework of UNODC’s project entitled ‘Improved National Response against Drugs and Contraband Trafficking in the Maritime Domain’ – funded by the United States State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Pakistan (INL-P). More specifically, five training courses will be delivered by Master Trainers of the PCG, Pakistan Customs, and the ANF – who were trained in VBSS and Bulk-Carrier Search by UNODC in Seychelles and Cape Town, South Africa in 2022. The Pakistani Master Trainers will be mentored by two international trainers of UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP). This series of training and mentoring sessions aims to further refine the technical skills of the Pakistani Master Trainers and to also provide training to an additional sixty fresh trainees from the PCG, Pakistan Customs and ANF on boarding operations and vessel search techniques.
While warmly welcoming the participants, Dr. Jeremy Milsom, Representative UNODC COPAK apprised the forum that UNODC had closely engaged with the Ministry of Narcotics Control during the design and implementation of this INL-funded project since October 2020. The project aims to address Pakistan’s priority capacity-building needs in the maritime domain. “UNODC COPAK adopts a holistic approach to support the Government of Pakistan in addressing various drugs and crime challenges, encompassing both domestic and transnational issues. Our ongoing Pakistan Country Programme III (2022-2025) complements the Government of Pakistan policies and programmes, focusing on drug supply reduction, drug demand reduction, rule of law and criminal justice, and counterterrorism. We are also promoting the Government of Pakistan’s regional and international cooperation in these areas”, said Dr Milsom.
Through a comprehensive presentation, Mr. David O’Connell, GMCP’s Programme Coordinator updated the participants about several capacity development interventions by UNODC under the INL-funded maritime security project. He elaborated upon the successful conduct of five VBBS training courses and six Bulk-Carrier Search training courses conducted by UNODC GMCP in Seychelles and South Africa. Seventy-four law enforcement officials (including 12 Master Trainers) of the PCG, Pakistan Customs, and the ANF were trained through these specialized training courses. “This specialized training was based on international best practices on engaging and boarding suspicious vessels at sea or in port and carrying out search and apprehension of drug traffickers and contraband smugglers in compliance with national and international maritime law”, said Mr. O’Connell.
In his remarks, Mr. Liam O’Flanagan, Deputy Consul General of the United States of America’s Consulate in Karachi, thanked Pakistan for making concerted counternarcotics efforts, as one of the main transit countries neighboring Afghanistan. He acknowledged the role played by the ANF and other Pakistani border law enforcement agencies and noted that “there is a need to further enhance Pakistan’s technical capacity – to proactively detect, deter and disrupt drug trafficking”. He also recognized the close partnership between Pakistan and the United States of America against drug proliferation.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Humaira Ahmed – Federal Secretary of the Ministry of Narcotics Control thanked UNODC and the INL for their vision and continuing capacity development, which had previously led to the successful implementation of a series of specialized training courses in Seychelles and South Africa. She highlighted that Pakistan was long exposed to the negative and wide-ranging consequences of the illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances from Afghanistan. She stressed the importance of improving national countermeasures, as envisioned in Pakistan’s Anti Narcotics Policy 2019. “Pakistan continues to play a crucial role as the first line of defence for the rest of the world against the massive outflow of opiates, synthetic drugs, and new psychotropic substances from Afghanistan. Given the uncertain political situation in Afghanistan, we strongly feel that there is a need to continue such capacity development initiatives by UNODC and the INL in the future”, said Ms. Humaira Ahmed.
Sixty fresh trainees of the ANF, PCG, and Pakistan Customs will be trained through this 8-Week mentoring session, adding additional tools to the range of skills available to Pakistani maritime law enforcement agencies in working to protect the region and wider international community from the threat posed by illicit drug trafficking and contraband smuggling through Pakistan’s maritime domain.