Pakistan
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    Profile

    Pakistan

    Capital

    Islamabad

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 278,221.91 million

    Income group

    Lower middle income

    Population

    216,565,318

    Area

    796,100 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    6.28

    Criminality score

    29th of 193 countries

    10th of 46 countries in Asia

    2nd of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Criminal market

    6.30

    Human trafficking

    8.00

    Human smuggling

    7.00

    Arms trafficking

    8.00

    Flora crimes

    4.50

    Fauna crimes

    5.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    5.50

    Heroin trade

    8.50

    Cocaine trade

    3.00

    Cannabis trade

    7.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.50

    Criminal actors

    6.25

    Mafia-style groups

    6.00

    Criminal networks

    7.50

    State-embedded actors

    7.00

    Foreign actors

    4.50

    4.00

    Resilience score

    133rd of 193 countries

    29th of 46 countries in Asia

    5th of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    3.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    3.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    4.00 6.25 6.30 4.00 6.25 6.30

    4.00

    Resilience score

    133rd of 193 countries

    29th of 46 countries in Asia

    5th of 8 countries in Southern Asia

    Political leadership and governance

    3.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    3.50

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    5.00

    Judicial system and detention

    3.00

    Law enforcement

    4.00

    Territorial integrity

    4.00

    Anti-money laundering

    4.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.00

    Victim and witness support

    3.50

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    4.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Human trafficking is a significant issue in Pakistan and occurs primarily in the form of forced labour, sexual exploitation and forced begging, although organ trafficking is also known to occur. Forced labour frequently occurs in the agricultural, construction, fisheries and textiles industries. While most cases of human trafficking are internal, Pakistanis have also been trafficked abroad and subjected to forced labour in the Middle East and Europe. Pakistani women and girls have also been trafficked into forced marriages in China, and Pakistani boys have fallen victim to the bachu bazi practice of sexual exploitation both domestically and in Europe. Children are also exploited in the domestic labour industry, as servants, in mines and as part of the drug trade. Refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), migrants and marginalized minorities in Pakistan are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking, and victims are largely targeted through false advertising or the implementation of debt.

    Pakistan’s human smuggling market is also flourishing, as many Pakistanis seek the services of smugglersin order to travel to Western countries. Moreover, refugees from other countries in Southern and South-eastern Asia but primarily from neighbouring states have been smuggled through Pakistan and onwards to other countries. The market is largely facilitated by corrupt government officials. Human smuggling is particularly prevalent in Balochistan province, driving the economy, and for some villages, serving as the largest source of revenue. Most human smuggling cases, both into and out of Pakistan, occur along the borderlands of Balochistan. However, individuals have also been smuggled along sea routes to neighbouring countries. Smuggled individuals are particularly vulnerable along theirjourneys, especially through Balochistan, where many have been subjected to violence and exploitation.

    Trade

    Arms trafficking is a significant issue in Pakistan. Illicit weapons are widely available and often trafficked out of Pakistan to neighbouring countries. More than three quarters of privately owned arms in Pakistan are unregistered. A lack of transparency surrounding legal arms exports also suggests the occurrence of illicit activity. One of the country’s most significant arms hubs is in Darra Adam Khel, where low-quality weapons are produced for various purposes, providing easy access for criminals. Arms produced in Darra Adam Khel have also been used in instances of terrorism. On the other hand, high-quality weapons, destined for both domestic and foreign markets, are produced in Peshawar. However, insurgent groups most often acquire arms from battlefields or purchase illicit weapons from state forces and/or arms traffickers. Overall, arms proliferation has resulted in increased rates of violence from organized criminal groups, insurgents and violent extremists across Pakistan. Due to increased efforts to contain domestic militancy and organized crime in recent years, Pakistan’s arms trafficking market seems to be on the decline. Regardless, the market continues to pose a significant threat to the country’s stability.

    Environment

    Environmental crimes are a significant issue in Pakistan. The country has enormous mineral wealth, particularly in the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and in Balochistan. In these regions, corrupt government officials facilitate the illicit trade of gems and other precious stones. Limited international investment due to both corruption and security issues also enables the illicit mining sector to flourish. Criminal groups have become increasingly involved in illicit mining activities, especially in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa such as the Mardan or Kohistan districts. In Balochistan, high-value metals such as gold and copper have also become a source of conflict between miners, the local and central governments, and Baloch nationalists. In particular, conflict has erupted over the Reko Diq mine, one of the largest gold and copper mines in the world. Balochistan’s coal industry also lacks regulation and is linked to corrupt and criminal interests. Although the Pakistani government has taken steps to attract legal mining operators, organized criminals wield significant control over mining activities in Pakistan.

    Illicit logging also occurs in Pakistan, and is engaged in by both organized criminals and domestic militant groups. A timber mafia also operates in both the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan forests, and is believed to harbour links to corrupt government officials. Illicit timber is often smuggled out of Pakistan to neighbouring countries and back into Pakistan for the purpose of tax evasion, and subsequently smuggled to the Middle East. Some illicit timber also fills local construction and heating demands. Illicit logging has had a detrimental environmental impact on Pakistan, rendering the country’s deforestation rate one of the highest in Asia. However, the market is partially on the decline due to increased opposition from locals seeking to curb deforestation.

    Poaching also poses a threat to wildlife in Pakistan. The pangolin population in particular has declined by an estimated 80% in the last five years due to poaching. Karachi-based middlemen purchase pangolins from poachers and transport them to China for consumption or use in traditional medicine. Corrupt government officials and elite landlords also organize hunting trips for wealthy visitors to Pakistan from the Middle East. Illegal hunting trips pose a significant threat to the Houbara bustard, as clearances for hunting the birdare not always legally obtained. Thering-necked parrot also faces risks due to poaching. However, large organized criminal groups are not heavily involved in poaching.

    Drugs

    Cannabis and heroin trafficking flourish in Pakistan. Cannabis consumption is widespread, especially in Karachi, which is believed to have the second-highest rate of cannabis consumption globally. In some parts of Pakistan, cannabis is also used for medicinal purposes or given to animals as treats. Pakistan also has one of the highest cannabis seizure rates globally. Cannabis production occurs primarily in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, supplying both domestic markets and markets across South Western Asia and the Middle East. Cannabis from neighbouring countries is also trafficked through Pakistan to the Middle East. Since many armed groups rely on the cannabis trade for income, cannabis fields have been targeted and burned in counter-insurgency operations. Heroin trafficked into Pakistan from neighbouring Afghanistan is primarily trafficked onwards to Southern Asia, as well as to East Africa or Southern Africa. Nearly half of Afghan-produced heroin transits through Pakistan. Consequently, easy access to heroin has led to rising rates of heroin addiction. Mafia-style groups and criminal networks, based primarily in Karachi, are heavily engaged in heroin trafficking, and cooperate with insurgent groups such as the Taliban. Corrupt government officials also facilitate heroin trafficking, enabling mafia-style groups that aid domestic and foreign policy goals to engage freely in the trade. Nevertheless, the government crackdown on domestic militancy and organized crime in recent years has led to the market’s contraction.

    Pakistan’s synthetic drug trade is also expanding, with methamphetamine consumption in particular becoming more popular among youth. Methamphetamine is trafficked into Pakistan from neighbouring countries, and to a lesser extent, from South-eastern Asia. K-tablets are also produced in Pakistan and trafficked to neighbouring countries. As with the heroin trade, the synthetic drug trade is primarily controlled by mafia-style groups. However, Pakistan’s cocaine trade is negligent, anddue to high prices, the drug is only consumed by the elite. Nevertheless, heroin traffickers sell cocaine on the side.

    Criminal Actors

    Both mafia-style groups and criminal networks engage in several forms of organized crime in Pakistan, including heroin trafficking, illicit mining, illicit logging and human smuggling. The most well-known mafia-style groups are the People’s Aman Committee, D-Company and Altaf Khanani’s money laundering organization. Designated terrorist groups such as the Taliban also engage in criminality as a source of revenue. Membership in mafia-style groups is high, especially in regions such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi, and many groups are linked to corrupt government officials or political parties. Boundaries between mafia-style groups, terrorist groups and political parties are thus often blurred. As such, mafia-style groups wield significant power over the democratic process and also influence the prison system. Because of that influence, there are gang-controlled areas, where the police is unable to enter. Mafia-style groups and criminal networks alike engage in activities such as racketeering, extortion and kidnapping. The latter are widespread across the country and are key to undermining the formal governance system as they have close ties to different state structures − law enforcement agencies, local customs/taxation departments, etc.

    Corrupt government officials cooperate with both mafia-style groups and criminal networks that aid the country’s domestic or foreign policy ambitions, including suppressing the Balochistan insurgency or opposing India. As such, state-embedded actors are involved in a range of criminal markets. Local criminals also cooperate with foreign criminals in transnational criminal markets such as heroin trafficking and human trafficking. Chinese criminal gangs are particularly active in human trafficking in Pakistan, and Baloch insurgents are believed to have multiple transnational links. Additionally, Afghani and Iranian drug traffickers play a considerable role in Pakistan’s both domestic retail/wholesale and exports drug markets. However, foreign actors exert moderate influence over organized criminal activity in Pakistan.

    Leadership and governance

    The Pakistani government exhibits strong authoritarian tendencies. The limited efforts to respond to organized crime are largely cosmetic, and are driven by political aims instead. In particular, the Pakistani government demonstrates tolerance towards anti-Indian criminal groups that align with its foreign policy objectives. Moreover, the judicial and security sectors are largely corrupt and lack political independence due to military influence. The failure of anti-corruption measures engenders high rates of impunity, and anti-corruption charges are often merely political attacks, hindering both rule of law and democracy. Government opposition, particularly in Balochistan and Kashmir, also hinders rule of law and drives up rates of violence. As such, Pakistan is one of the most fragile and corrupt states worldwide. However, the government is fairly transparent and access to information is guaranteed.

    Although Pakistan cooperates with international organizations such as INTERPOL, the country’s international cooperation efforts against organized crime and violent extremism have been fraught with complications. In particular, due to hostility towards India, the Pakistani government has served as a spoiler in peace negotiations, and has also provided a safe haven for terrorists and criminals. However, the Pakistani government has signed most treaties related to organized crime, with the exception of the Arms Trade Treaty, and also has extradition treaties with numerous countries in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The Pakistani penal code addresses a number of forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, human smuggling and drug trafficking. Pakistan is also a large recipient of international aid, in particular from the US.

    Criminal justice and security

    Pakistan’s rule of law is extremely weak. Corruption and impunity run rampant, and there is little public trust in either the judicial or law enforcement systems. Moreover, criminal investigations lack adequate funding. The prison system also suffers from overcrowding, understaffing and lack of medical care, and relies more on a punitive than rehabilitative approach, as evidenced by the involvement of prison officials in the physical beating and mental torture of prisoners. Mafia-style groups also wield significant influence over the prison system, rendering radicalization and terrorist recruitment significant issues. However, specialized police and investigation agencies exist to counter organized crimes, particularly human and drug trafficking as well as money laundering.

    Pakistan’s territorial integrity is also weak. The Pakistani government has, in some instances, outsourced border control to armed groups as part of its anti-terrorism response, despite these groups being accused of extrajudicial killings and torture. Armed clashes with government opposition groups in Balochistan also hinder state authority along the region’s borderlands, where armed groups and state forces alike have been accused of human rights violations, and rates of violence and criminality have significantly increased. The Pakistani government’s lack of territorial authority is also visible in the flourishing of criminal activity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi. Moreover, power struggles between civilian and military components of the state security apparatus weaken the efficacy of anti-organized crime and terrorism efforts.

    Economic and financial environment

    Pakistan has one of the highest risks of money laundering and terrorist financing in the world. Although the Pakistani government has shown a limited amount of progress in recent years, largely due to international pressure, the pace of improvement has been slow, and the country continues to be monitored for money laundering and terrorist financing risks. This has had a negative impact on economic growth, rendering it extremely difficult to do business in the country, and also deterring foreign investors. In response, the government has adopted more conservative fiscal policies, prompting a slow rate of steady development. Although this resulted in rising rates of school enrolment and decreasing poverty, progress was hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than one third of the Pakistani population remains in poverty, with poverty being especially rife in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Sindh provinces, as well as in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

    Civil society and social protection

    Victim support services are severely lacking in Pakistan. Law enforcement efforts to aid human trafficking victims are inadequate and inefficient. Pakistan is also one of the countries doing the least to aid victims to exit modern slavery in the Asia-Pacific region. Although drug rehabilitation centres exist and provide free services across the country, quality of care in these facilities remains low. Despite witness protection legislation being in place, enforcement remains limited and witnesses often disappear. This in turn hinders the ability to prosecute instances of organized crime. Crime prevention strategies in Pakistan are also lacking. Instead, state policy largely diverts criminals to membership in political militias or jihadist groups in which they can aid in domestic and foreign policy objectives. However, in recent years, the Pakistani government has increased its anti-terrorism efforts, in turn improving rates of crime prevention.

    Pakistani civil society is relatively active, and multiple NGOs, think tanks and civil society organizations work in the peace building and conflict prevention sectors in conflict-ridden regions of Pakistan. In particular, the national initiative against organized crime aims to increase national resilience and steer public policy on organized crime. Although Pakistani media has historically been quite vocal, media freedom has declined in recent years, and the systematic state targeting of independent journalists has risen. Journalists have been both harassed and killed due to investigative work on organized crime. As such, Pakistan has one of the lowest rates of media freedom worldwide.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.