Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day

Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day

Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day

Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day

Synopsis

The drug problem in South Asia is mounting. This work provides an inside story of the pro-revenue drug policies pursued by the British colonial authorities and post-independent governments in South Asia.

Excerpt

In mid-January 1997, the ABC evening news unveiled the biggest seizure of hashish in history by the local enforcement authorities along the Australian seaboard. Weighing about ten metric tons, with a market value of A$100 million, the hashish had been smuggled from Pakistan by a yacht. Understanding the significance of this information, my 8-year-old daughter Nazifa asked me curiously: 'Why can't the people in Pakistan stop the supply?' To find an answer for such a subtle yet simple inquisition was hard for me. I replied 'that's a long story'! In South Asia this problem is not confined to Pakistan alone. The present work is an attempt to provide an explanation for the above question and examine whether ordinary people have any control over the drug problems in the region. It illustrates a range of issues that are pertinent to the origins and development of drug abuse and illicit trafficking in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

This study, originally the politics of narcotics in South Asia, I undertook as my Ph.D. dissertation in the Department of Politics at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. My initial aim in writing a Ph.D. thesis was far from the present topic. This project came about after discussions with my supervisor, Professor Robin Jeffrey, who had stressed my previous work in the area. My first step in this current research developed from consulting the voluminous report of the British Royal Commission on Opium of 1893-95. This document was used as a powerful instrument in defense of the British opium trade in South Asia until an international control was adopted in 1925. Using the raw materials derived from this report, I was able to establish clear links between colonial revenue and drug policies, and their influences in South Asia during the post-independence era. My investigation is extensive, both in length and depth. South Asian drug issues are closely connected with the external policies of a dozen western and Asian countries, ranging from Afghanistan and Australia, to the US. Due to international control and underworld connections, present day drug-related issues in South Asia have attained a complexity that makes it difficult to trace the role of the . . .

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