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Baloch leader alleges drug trafficking by Pakistani security forces, threatens to revive protests

Photograph tweeted by Maulana Baloch on Tuesday

The leader of the Give Rights to Gwadar movement, Maulana Hidayatur Rehman Baloch, has alleged that Pakistani security forces are facilitating drug traffickers in Balochistan—the country's largest province.

Maulana Baloch leveled these allegations in a demonstration in front of the Gwadar police station on Tuesday, ensuring that the Gwadar ko Haq do movement which he initiated in mid-November does not lose momentum. 

In a serious accusation against the Pakistani security forces, Maulana Baloch said that while the security personnel harass and frisk innocent civilians at checkpoints, they allow vehicles with drugs to pass through. The Balochistan Post quoted the Baloch leader as saying that because of the attitude of the security forces, hundreds of thousands of Baloch people are addicted to drugs.

By talking about the issues of frisking and stopping local people at checkpoints, the Gwadar leader also pointed fingers at the heightened security for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), due to which the Baloch people have been feeling singled out and discriminated against.

Geopolitical analyst Mark Kinra told India Narrative that the problem of drugs is big in Balochistan. "It is a hub for both consumption and transit of drugs coming from Afghanistan. According to the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Gwadar is considered to be a prime trading centre for transiting drugs due to the port’s vicinity to regional trade centres. Not just Gwadar but several ports across the Makran coast—Ormara, Talar, Hingol, Sur Bandar, Peshukan and Jiwani, are used for sending out the drugs", says Kinra.

After the issues of livelihoods for fishermen and the security checkpoints which take away the dignity of the Baloch, Maulana Baloch has taken up the festering issue of drugs. Addressing the gathering, he told his followers that the security forces have allowed free movement to drug-peddlers throughout Balochistan which is leading to substance abuse among the Baloch youth.

Hitting out at the Pakistani government and military, the firebrand Baloch leader said that the very people who celebrate the Pakistani Republic Day on March 23–the day which created the world's first Islamic republic, and the independence day on August 14 are involved in drug trafficking. "Mount the Pakistani flag on your vehicle and you can traffic drugs without hindrance", Maulana Baloch told the gathering.

Kinra adds that the drug mafia is strongly entrenched in Balochistan and has even killed civil society members and government officials. "Pakistan provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth $30 billion from the neighbouring Afghanistan and out of the nine drug trafficking routes from Afghanistan to Pakistan, six routes pass through Balochistan. It is believed that nearly 1.6 per cent of the Balochistan population uses either heroin, opium, or both".

"With the Taliban now running an economically-drained Afghan economy, illicit drug trade is likely to rise and Balochistan will be the biggest victim of this trade", says Kinra.