Pakistan Narcotics Board (PNB) was set up in 1957, in the Revenue Division to fulfil Pakistan’s obligations under the International Opium Convention of 1925. Pakistan Narcotics Board (PNB) comprised representatives from the Provincial Governments and some Federal Ministries/Divisions. Pakistan ratified the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, 1961 on 15th August 1965. Later, Pakistan Narcotics Control Board (PNCB) was established in 1973 with five Regional Directorates, in response to the UN Convention on Narcotics Control, with the mandate to combat narcotics in the Country. The Board functioned as an attached department of the Ministry of Interior till 1989 with a strength of 883 all ranks. In 1989, the Narcotics Control Division (NCD) was established, and the Board became its attached department. Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) comprising 388 all ranks from the Pakistan Army was established in December 1991 as an attached department of NCD. Finally, the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) was raised on 21 February 1995 by merging ANTF and PNCB, thus completing the metamorphic cycle of ANF.
However, over the last decade or so, the challenges to ANF also grew manifold as Pakistan is increasingly used as a conduit for smuggling drugs to other parts of the world and drug abuse in Pakistan, especially among the young generation, has also grown in recent years. Since drugs have always involved big money, thus people involved in the drug business amassed wealth which was and is being used to influence the corridors of power. Similarly, people in drugs have developed strong regional and provincial networks for the transportation and distribution of drugs. To counter the increasing drug menace, ANF has evolved and developed a structure to counterchallenge the various facets of the drug menace. To conduct field operations, it has a strong ground force and an aviation wing. To train its personnel as per its needs, ANF has set up its own academy. Similarly, to persecute drug criminals, ANF is in collaboration with the Judiciary. ANF is also in collaboration with the Army to augment its resources, when and where required.
Sensing the danger, ANF has gone into active collaboration with academic institutions, and ANF’s higher command regularly visits institutions to have interactive sessions with students and sensitize them about the harmful effects of drug abuse. At the international level, ANF has gone into cooperation with international narcotics control authorities to exchange intelligence and conduct coordinated intelligence-based operations. Thus, ANF is in active collaboration with international organizations such as UNODC and DEA, USA. Also, ANF takes an active part in promoting Pakistan’s anti-drug efforts and the difficulties faced at international forums.
Thus, ANF has been provided resources and supported through legislation by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to mature into a well-structured organisation to conduct its operations effectively, swiftly, and efficiently. The efforts to strengthen ANF show commitment by the GoP to control and eradicate the curse of drugs not only from Pakistan but also put its fair share of efforts at the international level. However, the World also needs to acknowledge the achievements of Pakistan with its limited resources; and instead of pointing out the shortcomings should integrate positively to remove the scourge of drugs from which all segments of Pakistan are also being affected.
But as the challenges grow for ANF due to fluid conditions at borders, ANF needs to proactively adjust to changing national, regional, and international challenges, and network and evolve accordingly. However, fighting the drug menace is not one person’s or one department’s job. Everyone needs to put his or her fair share of effort into removing the cure drug menace from our society. Therefore, in the backdrop of its efforts and to create greater awareness on ‘International Drug Day’ on 26th, June 2023, ANF has aptly come up with the slogan of ‘One Nation, One Destination’ to emphasise that ANF needs the support of the nation, its people, and their resolve to help ANF achieve the aim of a drug-free Pakistan. Surely, continuous commitment and vigil at every level is the only sure way forward to curb and uproot the menace of drugs from our society and country.