Afghanistan Crisis:

Regional Implications and Impact on Pakistan's Polity

Uma Singh

The Afghanistan issue came as a blessing in disguise for Gen. Zia-ul-Haq who opted to go all out against Moscow playing the card of Islamic solidarity and terming Pakistan as the front-line state. He used the Afghanistan situation to legitimize his martial law regime and it is often felt that Zia's government would not have lasted so long without the war in Afghanistan and the generous military and economic assistance it received from the US which totalled more than 7.2 billion dollars. Pakistan provided sanctuary to the mujahideen to launch their military operations. Zia was overnight catapulted into a leader of world fame and importance and for almost a decade Pakistan was on the center stage of world politics. But the eclipse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War saw it pushed into the wings. The sweeping changes in the global political system and the emerging realities at the regional level resulted in Pakistan's political isolation as it was no longer required as a conduit of US supplies to Mujahideen. The end of the bipolar world has changed the contours of US-Pak relationship and a radically new foreign policy orientation favoring regional peace and cooperation, free trade, demilitarization and economic development deserve top most priority in the national agenda. Pakistan is making efforts to return to is regional moorings and a quest for alternate linkages has already begun.

Islamabad was certainly motivated by geostrategic and domestic imperatives. Most paramount aim of Pakistani policy makers was to block the revival of nationalism and assure recognition of what Pakistan had always claimed as its international border (the Durand Line). This could be achieved, Pakistan felt through the creation of an Afghanistan that, if not a client state, would at least, offer a friendly north-west frontier province. This would provide Pakistan's military planners with strategic geopolitical depth in any future conflict with India. Naturally the army played a leading and crucial role as the Afghan war became a major national security issue. As such, the major responsibility was assumed by the Pakistan military intelligence division, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, known as ISI which, later on, started designing Pakistan's Afghan policy. Islamabad certainly started looking far beyond than merely rolling back the Red Army aggression. It was during this period that there were talks of securing strategic depth. Ambitions even if not fulfilled leave their marks behind. The Afghanistan tragedy, stemming from adventurism on the part of former Soviet Union and aggravated later by the miscalculations and misperceplions of the US and Pakistan has continued to be mishandled to this day.

The options available to Pakistan to remedy this mess are few. The declaration by Pakistan of its firm support to Burhanuddin Rabbani's government in Kabul and the sealing of border between the countries has proved to be too little and too late. The fragmentation of Afghanistan has had grave implications for the country and its neighbors. It has ended up as a battle ground of external forces aspiring to control the course of events in this strategically important territory according to their own perceived interests. Be it Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, each one of them has its fingers in Afghanistan pie. The Afghan policy of Pakistan is now the cornerstone of creating an Islamic bloc comprising tlle Central Asian republics and ECO (Economic Cooperation Organisation) members. Turkey favours Pan-Islamic alliance and organisation of economic cooperation and cultural contacts. Iran wants to create a more nationalistic and language based grouping particularly with Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and parts of Afghanistan. Islamabad is trying to consolidate its influence in Kabul and open up the country for international transit trade to Central Asian republics. The success of Pakistan's strategy will depend on Afghan unity being consolidated in the first instance - which is an uncertain political scenario at this moment. Secondly, it would depend on the needs, capabilities and resources of Pakistan on the one hand and those of five Central Asian republics on the other.

Islamabad acted equally short-sightedly. Anti-Pakistan sentiments are on the rise in Afghanistan despite Pakistan having unstintedly helped the Mujahideen for 14 years. Two main targets of the resentment are Pakistani intelligence agencies and the government in power in Pakistan. The Afghans have never accepted a regime imposed from outside. Pakistan expected a major stake in the configuration of power, the economic policies and the prevailing ideologies of a post-war Afghanistan. Thinking on these lines they sought to install an Islamic regime sympathetic or beholden to Pakistan after fall of Najibullah. Far from that it has fuelled civil strife in the wartorn Afghan capital. The only change visible is that the venue of infighting and squabbles among the resistance groups has shifted from Peshawar to Kabul. Peace is rather elusive and the developments in Afghanistan and the dilemma that seems to have gripped the Pakistani decision makers exposes the ruinous effects of Pakistan's Afghan policy which has ended in disarray with no political or strategic gains for the nation after paying heavy costs- especially on its federal structure. It reflects the lack of proper understanding of the situation and complete dearth of political options. Pakistan now faces an Afghan scenario over which it has very little control. Despite Pakistan's public support to the Rabbani government, it has not been able to give up its support for Hekmatyar. The seizure of arms on the border intended for Hekmatyar and his factions and the involvement of senior ISI men clearly shows that some quarters in Pakistan have always remained wedded to Zia's forward policy on Afghanistan. These incidents certainly do not send the right signal to Kabul.

Zia the main architect of Pakistan's Afghan policy had opted for a disunified and decentralized Afghan state as the best insurance that no government antagonistic to Pakistan would emerge in the future. Pakistani authorities virtually controlled every aspect of Afghan presence in Pakistan as well as the direction of the war. The activities of Afghan refugees and the objectives of their armed efforts were congruent with the perceived interests of Pakistan. The authorities in Islamabad were to be the final arbiter of war management. The operation involves close management of refugees and the direction and coordination of Afghan resistance parties based in Peshawar. Pakistani authorities never seriously inhibited the free movement of resistance forces across the border nor the recruitment and training of fighters. Arms for the resistance groups came from a number of sources. The cost of the operation as late as 1983 was not more than 50 million dollars with the US financing about half and Saudi Arabia the rest. By the late 1980s, Washington was providing about $300 million and Saudis approximately lhe same. Washington's total contribution for the decade was roughly two billion dollars. In addition to Iran's assistance to Shia resistance groups, Egyptian, Saudi and Chinese arms were supplied to Pakistani army for distribution as were those paid for by the US. With Pakistan's approval, supplies from some Arab countries were provided to select Sunni parties designated by these states.

Officially Pakistani government kept denying active involvement and Mujahideen leaders also insisted that they were carrying on the war without the Pakistani support. In reality, the ISI worked closely with the resistance groups in the more accessible border areas planning and offering tactical advice and training. Pakistani officers collaborated with Afghan field commanders in a number of larger operations.

The ISI was the main source of information for the US about the politics of the resistance groups. It can also lay claims to some of the credit for the failure of the Soviets to achieve their objectives in the war. CIA operatives and others came to depend heavily on Pakistan's military intelligence not only in reference to supplies and its relationships with resistance groups but also for strategic assessments. The CIA also relied heavily on often less than reliable Pakistani sources for information about the reception and use of arms across the border. The US overlooked the report that elements of the Pakistani army and refugee administration were cooperating with members of the Peshawar organization in the sale of weapons to parties outside the conflict. The US also condoned the regular siphoning off of aid intended to pass across the border into Afghanistan but which instead was utilized for the comfortable life styles of some of the resistance leaders in Peshawar.

Although there had been more than 80 rcsistance groups operating in Peshawar, by 1982 Pakistani authoritics had forced them to coalesce into seven. With the exccplion of Yunus Khalis, leader of one of the Islamist parties in Peshawar, none of the party leaders had a territorial base inside Afghanistan. Permission to register refugees in the camps, an authorization given to all seven Peshawar-based parties was critical to their survival. Pakistani officials discriminated in military and other forms of assistance in favour of Ihe more radical Islamic resistance factions and cooperateld in curtailing the activities of their more moderate traditionalist competitors. The Shia parties and non-religious oriented Afghan national parties were, in effect, excluded from the Peshawar alliance.

Zia and his military government found in Hekmatyar an excellent instrument of policy to support an armed resistance. He remained a favourite of Zia regime and his Hizb-e-Islami was considered to be the best oganization and most disciplined of the Peshawar based parties. His close ties with the conservative Jamat-i-Islami of Pakistan, effectively a domestic political ally of Zia also justified assistance to the Hekmatyar group. Also, Zia in his Islamic fervour found in Hizb-e-Islami a group that in its authoritarian internationalist brand of Islam shared with him an anti- communist zeal. Hekmatyar's party dcveloped what Pakistani observer Mushahid Hussain referred to as the relations of trust and confidence with the military. Above all, an ideologically compatible Afghan party was expected to provide the geopolitical assurances that Pakistan was aiming at.

Hekmatyar was also ravoured by thc Pakistani refugee administration especially so during the 1980-83 tenure of commissioner Shaikh Abdullah Khan who sympathized with the religious parties. Arriving refugees from Afghanistan were obliged, if they wanted to qualify for rations to become affiliated with one of the resistance groups and many camp officials favoured those who identified with Hekmatyar's party. United Nations monitored funds were regularly diverted by Pakistani officials to Hizb-e- Islami enabling it to take more than its full share of rations, tents and other relief aid. The Pakistanis gave the Islamists a strong voice in the educational programme in the camps and later in the cross-border transfer of educative materials and the establishment of schools. Hizb-e-Islami was also allowed to run its own security service, presumably to watch for Kabul trained infiltrators but actually more to undermine competing Afghan resistance groups. Given Hizb-e-Islami's limited popular base within Afghanistan, only with direct Pakistani support could it hope after a resistance victory to be a serious contender for power in Kabul. His party was said to have received 20-25 per cent of US-supplied arms during the late 1980s. Others insisted that during most of the decade, roughly half of the US supplied weapons went to Hekmatyar. By contrast, other resistance forces inside Afghanistan (estimated 12,000 men) under the command of Ahmad Shah Masud were not favoured by either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. Masud whose network of commanders covered six northern provinces had regularly criticized the Pakistanis and their US supporter for ignoring his group. Pakistan's policy towards Masud was influenced by his refusal to accept ISI dictates. Also an an ethnic Tajik he was not acceptable to the ISI which was wedded to the idea that only a Pashtun could rule Afghanistan.

"The Afghan policy of Pakistan often seemed to play on the social changes and cleavages within Afghanistan that intensified during the war" As mentioned earlier, Pakistan favoured a fragmented future of Afghanistan which would not pose any threat to Pakistan. Thus an alliance of the seven Peshawar based parties formed in early 1988 referred to as the "ISI shot gun marriage agreement" by Louis Dupree provided for a rotating leadership. This arrangement assured that no Afghan leader including Hekmatyar could monopolize power and that the movement would therefore have to continue to look to Pakistan for guidance. Pakistan would be better served by a more structured cohesive alternative to the Kabul government that would provide some stability in Afghanistan as well as that would be pro-Pakistan. Priority was thus given to the creation of a broad based organization called the "Afghan interim government"

As an aftermath to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in February 1989, it was felt that there would be some reconsideration in Pakistan's Afghan policy. Just two months prior to the Soviet pull out, a democratically elected government headed by Benazir Bhutto was restored in Islamabad and it was expected that there would be a greater inclination in the Bhutto government for distancing Pakistan from a more radical Afghan policy. She had been extremely critical of Zia's unwavering support of the Afghan resistance. But despite the change of regime in Pakistan a change in its Afghanistan policy could not be easy because of the umbilical cord that tied both the military and the civilian regime to the Afghanistan issue. Because of her political vulnerabililies, Benazir failed to establish a strong grip over her foreign policy and tenuous parliamentary control by Bhutto during her twenty month tenure in office (December 1988-August 1990) did not lead to any subslantial policy changes largely because the army and the ISI-resisted any diminution of power. Nawaz Sharif who followed Benazir also wanted to personally run Islamabad's Afghan policy. But under Hamid Gul and Asad Durrani, the ISI ran the Afghan policy independent of the govcrnment in Islamabad and looked to the Afghan struggle as merely a stepping stone in the larger battle for Islamic resurgence. What was worse was that the government led by Nawaz Sharif allowed itself to become a hostage on the Afghan issue to pressure groups both within the administration and outside. At times it was an ISI show, at other times it appeared that the Afghan policy was being run by the Jamat-i-Islami. The Afghan cell created by the President Ishaq Khan to monitor the Afghan developments fared no better. The cell held regular meetings but it failed to take the kind of initiatives needed to break the Afghan impasse. Its failure to bridge the differences within the Mujahideen groups was appalling. It has become evident now that the cell was created to keep Benazir Bhutto's government completely out of the Afghan issue. That Islamabad's Afghan policy largely based on wishful assumption of Pan-Islamism has been blown to shreds now stands vindicated.

 Pakistan now has to "survive" the "victory" it has achieved. Compared to the price Pakistan is paying, the Americans fought a cheap war. Mohammad Yousuf, a former head of the Afghan Bureau at the ISI for four years has written a book entitled, "The Bear Trap: Afghanistan untold Story". The author simply does not believe that there was any truth in Pakistan's overt posture about its solution and contends that the final reckoning of this clandestine war is still to come. The illusion of military victory has spread in Pakistan and foreign policy is increasingly seen as an extension of 'Jehad'.

IMPACT ON DOMESTIC POLICY:

PAKISTAN AND THE AFGHAN REFUGEES

There has been some very ruinous effects of Pakistan's Afghan policy on its domestic scene. The conflict in Afghanistan has resulted in the world's greatest refugee migration to Pakistan and the population pressures have generated potentially explosive situation in Pakistan. While they are themselves victims of the Afghan crisis, Afghan refugees constitute a potentially destabilizing nation within Pakistan. Historically, great refugee movements have been destabilizing to countries and regions. It is likely that the nearly 4 million displaced Afghans in Pakistan will cling to their ethnic and cultural character and increasingly assert themselves as a powerful political force. Added to this potential are the pressures that millions of refugees place on the services and resources there.

Well over 5 million Afghans have fled their country since the 1979 Soviet invasion. These refugees have settled in India (4,700) and Iran (5,60,000) but the majority (estimated at upto 3.5 million) have settled in Pakistan, most living in 340 settlement camps along the Afghan-Pakistan border. These refugees can be divided into five categories: (1) Refugees who came from politically prominent and wealthy families with personal and business assets outside Afghanistan; (2) a small group who arrived with the assets that they could bring with them such as trucks, cars and limited funds and which has done relatively well in Pakistan integrating into the new society and engaging successfully in commerce; (3) those refugees who came from the ranks of the well-educated and include professionals such as doctors, engineers anld teachers; (4) Refugees who escaped with household goods and herds of sheep, cattle and yaks but for the most part must be helped to maintain themselves; (5) the fifth and the largest group constituting of about 60 per cent of the refugees are ordinary Afghans who arrived with nothing and are largely dependent on Pakistan and international efforts for subsistence.

Since 1979 the international community has been mobilized to address the short-term needs of Afghan refugees. However, the potential political consequences for Pakistan are evident. The impact of Afghan refugees over Pakistan's socio-economic life has been rather adverse. The region known as Pushtunistan (South-east Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan) has a long history of complex tribal and ethnic relations. Despite frontier disputes in 1961, the people of this region have flowed across borders relatively freely for generations. Afghan refugees flceing famine settled in Pakistan in the early 1970s and the present migration is an extension of the historic movements of Afghanistan. The early migration involved primarily peasant Afghans subject to the vagaries of natural calamity, while the present migration comprises a cross-section of rural poor, urban middle and upper classes. While many of the urban class have migrated to the US and West Europe, a significant middle class has settled in Pakistan, giving the refugee population a political awareness hitherto unseen. It may well be for this reason that the Afghan state-in-exile has a highly politicized population which had been consolidated into a formidable resistance to the Soviet occupation and the Najibullah government.

The present situation also tends to discourage repatriation. It is now over more than a decade since Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan (and have since left) and the flow of refugees swelled into a time span which not only distinguishes the present migration from the past but makes it comparable with the Palestinian crisis and its attendant complexities.

The UNHCR has noted that (to the credit of Pakistan) in the initial stages of the Afghan crisis, the refugees were fed and sheltered by the residents in extraordinary acts of charity and hospitality. Zia-ul-Haq had once mentioned that there were very few social problems between Afghan refugees and Pakistanis. He also emphasized that there was no limit to the contribution Pakistan was prepared to make. The costs have been in terms of the pressures placed upon the Pakistani infrastructure of schools, hospitals, lands, water, employment, the economy and other dimensions of refugee asylum.

Most of the 2 million Afghans that have crossed into Pakistan's N.W.F.P. are Pathans but increasingly Tadjiks and Uzbeks have populated Peshawar and Quetta as first he Soviets and then the Afghan gcvernment expanded operations throughout Afghanistan. Not only has Dari (Afghan-Persian) begun to flow as freely as Pashto in the bazaars but the clothes and customs representing the Afghan's varied ethnic background point to a gradual transformation in Peshawar's traditional Pathan character.

Today most refugees (75 perccnt) live in Pakistan's N.W.F.P., the remainder primarily in Baluchistan (20 per cent) and in the city of Peshawar (4 per cent). The majority are Pathan tribesmen largely from the Eastern regions of Afghanistan but the number of refugees representing other ethnic groups has increased. Peshawar has become the largest Afghan enclave outside Kabul while the refugee population also grew in cities such as Islamabad, Quetta and Karachi.

Afghan refugees are not only noteworthy for their numbers but for the duration of their stay in Pakistan. The longer they remain there, the greater are the chances of their becoming a political force in that country. Since the formation of the Afghan interim government, the refugee population and the resistance movement it has launched have sought status in the United Nations and membership in the Organization of Islamic Conference. The resistance group also sought diplomatic recognition from the US and Europe as well as Muslim countries and status as the sole legitimate representative of the Afghan people in any negotiation to resolve the crisis in Afghanistan. Efforts were also made to establish legal structures for the resolution of disputes among Afghans in Pakistan and the elections in the refugee camps have been planned to reinforce the concept of a nation-in- exile. Prolonged displacement could see the formation of an Afghan nation in Pakistan placing a political burden on that country despite its best intentions and efforts from the international community.

Pressures on the Pakistan Economy

Although Zia and later Prime Ministers have emphasized that few problems exist between Afghan refugees and Pakistan, it is well known that Afghan refugees have hardly been popular in N.W.F.P. and Baluchistan. Similar is the position in Sindh where the basic contention of mohajirs has been that Pakistan can accept over 3 million Afghan refugees but it has not been able to repatriate 200,000 Bihari Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh since 1971. Lawlessness, Kalashnikov and drug culture that have overtaken the socio-economic spheres of Pakistani life are attributed to the arrival of Afghan refugees. Unless appropriate measures are taken conflicts are bound to aggravate. The refugee requirement for pastures for their herds of camels, goats, cattle and sheep have provokcd disputes with the indigenous population over grazing rights.

 When relief food is adcquate or in excess, a different set of problems occur. The price of food may decrease as relief goods find their way into the general economy. Such a deflation in prices can subvert local food products and some resentment has arisen when refugees have better living conditions than their hosts. In parts of Pakistan, refugees have shared relief food with destitute Pakistanis who descend upon refugee camps hoping to take advantage of relief supplies. Competition for common property resources can be particularly damaging to the local poor, increasing tensions between host population and refugees. Thc tension in Pakistan has been most acute over grazing lands but has also been felt in terms of available water and wild life. Competition over scarce employment has resulted in some of the first signs of friction between Afghans and Pakistanis as both place demands on a fragile developing economy. Refugces have been willing to work for lower wages than their Pakistani counterparts at times for as little as 50 per cent of the typical Pakistani wage. There are few options available to host communities or the poor within these communities. They have no resources such as food, medical aid or the programme of refugee relief work agencies unless it is through black market or the generosity of refugees themselves.

 Compared with other countries of asylum, Pakistan allows the Afghans relative freedom of movement and they are able to live and work where they will and engage in political affairs related to the crisis in their country. They live in camps rent free, draw relief benefits and work to supplement their incomes. When refugees established business primarily in urban ccntres some Pakistanis began to resent the competition and Afghan domination in certain trades. The world recession has also had an impact on the refugee population. Many Pakistanis who had gone abroad to work were forced to return to Pakistan when the construction boom in the Persian Gulf ended. The return has placed a greater premium on jobs resulting in competition between Pakistanis and Afghans. The potential for friction has been heightened.

 The economic and palitical problems of Afghan displacemcnt have been compounded by cultural/ethnic behaviour which have caused problems for Pakistani authorities. For many Afghans the maintenance of tribal autonomy has meant relative distance from government, whether in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Historically, these people have felt that when there was tension or pressures from authorities on one or the other side of the border, they could cross over. This, however, has been minimized by the continued crisis and war in Afghanistan leaving many Afghans no alternative but to remain in Pakistan. Pakistan itself is in the process of nation-building. Political legitimacy will depend on people's capacity to reconcile tribal and ethnic loyalties with national loyaltics.

If repatriation is unlikely, will Afghans be willing to assimilate into Pakistani society, and will they submit to Pakistani law and nationalism? Political legitimacy, which is the goal of most developing countries is complicated in the case of Pakistan. The refugee crisis has led to a situation where there is a refugee nation attempting to establish its authority within a country which is attempting to achieve political legitimacy and development.

Among the problems facing Pakistan is the Afghan characteristic of ghairat which refugees have and which can be interpreted as bravery or zeal expressed in the pursuit of one's objectives or self-identity. It may well be this cultural characteristic that has imbued the Afghan resistance within the vigour which proved so formidable to Soviet intervention. ghairat is expressed by maintaining distance from the state and its authority. This quality has been exercised in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan where government influence has traditionally been inhibited by rugged terrain. But as an increasing number of Afghan refugees are present in Pakistan, an issue facing Islamabad is how to overcome tribal independence so as to avoid creating tensions. Thc future stability in Pakistan may be determined by Islamabad's ability to cope with an independent refugee population. There have been instanccs of disputes between Pakistani officials and refugees where bureaucratic issues have come into conflict with Afghan refugees. There have bcen various instances where authorities have been denied entrance into rcfugee houses and disputes have occurred where Afghans have felt that the government had outstepped into bounds in the administration and control of refugee settlement.

The Afghan involvement has also accentuated the feelings of ethnic exclusivity in the N.W.F.P. and brought on the national agenda the potentially explosive issue of a Greater Pushtunistan. The eruption of ethnic conflict is bound to spill over into Pakistan. The threat of kindling the feelings of Pushtun exclusivily across the Durand Line can be used by rebel groups to pressurize Islamabad to continue their support to their territorial aggrandizement. A far more serious situation is developing in Baluchistan where the Baluch-Pakhtun divide is assuming a dangerous dimension. Sind has already been in ferment for a long time. The Pashtun nationalism seems to have re-emerged from the shadow of the Islamic jehad that was the main motivating factor to dislodge the "Godless regime". A greater degree of the Afghan crisis is further spilling of ethnic groups along sectarian, linguistic, cultural and territorial lines through most of Pakistan's territory .

 Ethnic ferment has also reached the Punjab wherc the Seraiki movement seeks to create a distinct region in the lower Punjab incorporating the Multan, Bahawalpur, Sialkot and Jhang belt.

Drug Factor in Pakistan's Politics

Pakistan is also deeply enmeshed in a narcotics problem that is complex, multifaceted and growing. Pakistan is a major producer of opium. According to the Federal Cabinet Minister in-charge of Narcotics, farmers in Pakistan produced 200 tons of raw opium in the 1991-92 growing season. This was an increase of 20 tons from 1991 and continued an upward trend since the historic low of 40 tons achieved in 1985. Tribal heroin cartels in Pakistan control more than half of the cultivation and marketing of opium in Afghanistan. This year Afghanistan may have become the world's largest producer of opium. These cartels in Pakistan control the refining of much of the opium produced in both Pakislan and Afghanistan into heroin. Mobile laboratories operating in Pakistan's autonomous tribal areas along and across the Pakistani-Afghan border produce the bulk of heroin manufactured in the Golden Crescent. A few laboritories operate in Pakistani Baluchistan and others have been set up in Jalalabad and Kandhar in Afghanistan.

 Pakistani drug cartels garner enormous profits although figures are impossible to verify. According to one study the Pakistani share of the world's narcotics trade is about $120 billion a year, an extremely high figure. In August 1992, the National Dcvelopment Finance Corporation estimated that the black economy of the country gains US $32.5 billion annually from the cultivation, production and smuggling of illicit narcotics from the Golden Crescent. This makes, according to a secret classified report on "Heroin in Pakistan" commissioned by the CIA, Pakistan's black economy more than half the size of the country's annual Gross National Product. Another study by a US accounting firm puts the entire black economy at US $208 billion but grants that large portion of this comes from the booming returns being received by the country's drug barons.

Such profits have made the drug mafias' penetration into the Pakistani state and economy possible at all levels. Pakistani experts on narcotics believe narcotics money now fuels the political system supporting party organisation and election campaigns. Narcotics money buys protection for the drug mafias at the highest political levels in Pakistan while the privatization scheme of Nawaz Sharif government provided vast opportunities for drug lords to launder their profits and legitimize themselves by buying into banks and industrial conglomerates. Many known drug lords and narcotics traffickers sit in the National Assembly of N.W.F.P., Punjab and Baluchistan. In Sind the Assembly is full of Patharidars land lords who protect bandit gangs involved in kidnapping, narcotics and illegal weapons. One frontier drug chieftain who is a member of the National Assembly had access to the former President Ghulam Ishaq Khan's house. Narcotics traffickers in Punjab werc related to former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif by marriagc and reportedly was close to the Sharif family.

The US has lost much of the influence it had gained in Pakistan through its support for the Afghan resistance. The two countries are still cooperating on narcotics control and USAID is funding an attempt to address this demand.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the subsequent conflict disrupted old smuggling routes between Afghanistan and Europe via Iran, Turkey and across the Iran-Soviet border. These routes were patronized by itinerant Afghans who traded in everything from American jeans to Mercedes Benz automobiles. The cutting off of these routes deflected much of this trade south and east to Pakistan. The Herati traders no longer went west to Mashad but south east to Kandhar and Quetta and trans-shipment points at Nushi and Dalbandin in Pakistani Baluchistan and Robat near the Afghan-Pakistan-Iran trijunction.

According to the government of Pakistan there are at least 1.2 million heroin addicts in Pakistan. By far the largest proportion of heroin that moves into or through Pakistan 50-55 metric tonne of 70 metric tonnes (1991) is consumed within the counlry. It is clear that heroin has touched all parts of Pakistani society.

Pakistan's N.W.F.P. is the region where an illicit heroin industry can be located. Poppy has been grown here since centuries. Historically the major growing areas have been in the Mahaban range of Gadoon Amazai in Swabi districts, Buner parts of the Malakand protected areas and in the upper side valleys of the Panjkora river in Dir, west of the Indus river. The N.W.F.P. is largely populated by Pakhtun tribes who are known for their warlike culture and love of weapons. The major border tribes - Wazir, Masud, Bhattani, Mangal, Bangash, Ovakzai, Afridi, Mohmand Ulmankhel live under their own warlike code of Pakhtunwali. During the Afghan conflict, the border tribes exploited lhe situation to strengthen themselves.

As far as the major narcotics network in the N.W.F.P. are concerned, four significant drug networks appear to be functioning in the province- the Gandaf traders, the Yusuf Zia and Khattak elites. They have established personal contacts with the key corridors of power and a base from which they promote their business interests. The best example of this is Zia-ul- Haq who did have an entourage who used their position to promote criminal interests including narcotics. Two of his pilots used presidential aircraft to smuggle heroin - one to the US during a state visit. Zia's banker and chief financial adviser, Hamid Hasnain was arrested in 1985 as part of a ring smuggling heroin to Europe through Norway zonal head of Habib Bank. No group is more important to the future of narcotics trafficking in and through Pakistan than the Afridi mafia. The Afridi Pakhtuns are the border smugglers and raiders of Pakistan par excellence. The location of their territory in a crescent around Peshawar from South to West and their holding of the Khyber Pass, the great northern gateway to the India subcontinent has made them a factor to bec reckoned with by all in the valley of Peshawar - Mughal, Durrani, Sikh, British and the Pakistani. The big smugglers and narcotic, traffickers all live in guarded fortresses inside the Khyber Agency where the penal codes of Pakistan do not apply.

The Afridis took to the heroin business from the very beginning involving themselves in all phases of the product cycle from cash advances to growers to collecting the opium base and moving it to refine laboratories, to transporting heroin throughout Pakistan and into international channels. As early as 1980, the Khyber agency began to harbour refining "laboratories" and by 1984, the Agency reportedly had 60 such laboratories in the operation.

Baluchistan has always been remote and undeveloped. Huge areas are still ruled by powerful Sardars (tribal chiefs) with 2.5 million Baluch in Central and Southern Baluchistan and another 2 million Pashtuns in the North Quetta - Pishin - Zhob. Pakistan's largest province is sparsely populated. If seizures of narcotics are any indication - Baluchistan has been a major conduit for heroin in the early 1980s after Iranian narcotics dealers and Iranian Baluch Sardars fleeing from the Khomeini regime settled in Quetta and Karachi. Iranian money underwrote the development of the Helmund Valley in Afghanistan as a major poppy growing region under Afghan Mujahideen commanders. Baluch agents took over much of the overland movement of the Helmund crops, transporting it by camel and trucks to refining centres in Robot and Shovawak in Afghanistan and Nushki and Chagai in Pakistan. Thc role of Baluchistan in the interim heroin trade has increased yearly as Pakhtun dealers from the N.W.F.P. develop contacts with their Pashtun brothers in Zhob in and around Quetta. Moreover, now that Kandhar in Afghanistan is developing as a poppy growing and reportedly a hcroin rcfining centre, the importance of Baluchistan is growing.

Pakistan's biggest drug baron Haji Ayub Zakhakhel had access to former President Ishaq Khan (a Pakhtun from the Bangash belt of Bannu district). In Punjab, other key figures in the heroin trade used to sit in the inner political council of former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. The easy availability of heroin in Bara and Dara Adam Khel has attracted hundreds of free launchers, small gangs and enterprising businessmen. Increasingly political groups use heroin to fund themselves and buy arms. In Jhang city, both the Shia based Tehrik-i-Nafaz-i-l; iqh-i-affaria (TNFI) and the militant Sunni Anjuman-i-Sipah-Sabah (ASS) reportedly killed each other over the control of the local heroin trade. Narcotics gangs are also operating in the industrial city of Faisalabad.

Haji Iqbal Beg is a key figure in Lahore and his closest political ally has been Malik Meraj Khalid a founder member of PPP in 1967 and a former speaker of National Assembly. As the heroin trade boomed, in the 1980s, former COAS Asif Beg's personal wealth also multiplied. Il is also mentioned in the report that according to some narcotics expert, Beg cooperated with ISI in its programme to assist anti-Indian Sikh insurgency. Beg's operations made heroin trade an important source of wealth in the Punjab economy.

 Karachi in Sind is the main narcotics entrepot in Pakistan served by main roads coming through Baluchistan via Kalat and Las Bela and the National Highway through Hyderabad. Other roules to India go via Hyderabad; one to Badin and then across the Rann of Kutch. Hyderabad has become an important way slation for heroin on its way down to Karachi. The city has virtually been taken over by criminal gangs, shielded by powerful politicians connected to the late Jam Sadiq, Sindh Chief Minister (1990-92) and Irfannullah Marwat (a Pakhtun from the N.W.F.P.) son-in- law of Ghulam Ishaq Khan. The major gangs in Hyderabad are also former Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz militias that had turned their organization and arsenals to crime - gun running, opium and heroin. Most heroin comes into Karachi by road in trucks owned by Frontier Pakhtuns and is spread out to godowns located in Pakhtun and Muhajir enclaves in the city. The Pakhtuns have allowed Muhajir gangs run Karachi district networks. The deal represented the underside of the political alliances forged by the late Jam Sadiq between anti-PPP Sindhis, Muhajirs and Pakhtun immigrants. Once heroin shipments arrive in Karachi, resident traffickers - usually family members of the Frontier druglords - oversee distribution to the local network and then to international operations out of the Karachi port and airport.

 During the eight year period of martial law under Gen. Zia-ul-Haq (1977-85) a number of officers became involved in narcotics. They were mostly Majors in the army who headed martial law courts and started by taking tribes from those accused in narcotic cases. Some men like Major Afridi, Major Zahoor escaped from custody and became more deeply involved as traffickers connected to the frontier mafias. It has been alleged that the previous Corps Commander at Lahore (IV Corps) Lieutenant General Mahsud Alam Jan made a lot of money by facilitating the movement of narcotics from the frontier to Lahore and then to India.

 It is also alleged that the ISI allowed Afghan resistance groups to trade in narcotics after the suspension of US assistance and that individual ISI officers participated in trade. The ISI is also deeply involved with Sikh militants who used Pakistan as sanctuary and also use heroin to fund their arms purchases. The Kashmir insurgency is said to be partly funded by heroin. The stronger pro-Pakistan group, the Hizbul Mujahideen is backed by the ISI, the Jammat-i-Islami of Pakistan and the Hezb-i-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Some observers also believe that the army is more deeply involved in narcotics trafficking and that the narcotics mafias and their politician allies (Nawaz Sharif was included in this group) regularly pay off the corps commanders. Others feel that the combina.ion of US aid cut off and the drug money flowing into Pakistan through the black economy and the legal bearer bond schemes tempted the armed forces to tap narcotics to finance their expensive weapons purchases.

There does not seem to be any prospect of abrupt or major changes in Pakistan's domestic narcotics profile although developments in Afghanistan, Central Asia and India could alter patterns of international trafficking and have a significant impact on the role of Pakistan mafias. Pakistan lacks both a strong anti-narcotics public opinion lobby and the institutional capacity to take the drug mafias head on. To many vested interests are benefitting directly or indirectly from narcotics for the civilian law enforcement agencies to have anything more than a sporadic effect on production or trafficking. Drug money underpins the black economy which is now virtually the same size as the legitimate economy.

The narcotics issue faced by Pakistan is one of the priority issues for the government of Benazir Bhutto. The menace of drug abuse and drug trafficking put great strains on Pakistan's limited resources not to mention the disruption of social order. A regional plan of action was agreed upon by the ECO member states to tackle the problem and consequently a committee was set up within the ambit of ECO to institutionalize and promote cooperation in the ECO member states to combat the drug issues faced by the region. The ECO Committee on narcotics abuse control provides an institutional forum ECO memher states to combat all aspects of the narcotics problem with full force. A meeting of the ECO Committee on narcotics abuse control was held in Islamabad on 21 December 1993 to mark the resolve of the ECO member states to cooperate with each other to banish drug abuse and drug trafficking.

Kashmir Information Network
Afghanistan Factor