Thursday, September 9, 2010

On the road from Islamabad to New York

Much of Pakistan’s capital looks like a Los Angeles suburb. Shiny sport utility vehicles purr down gated driveways. Elegant multistory homes are tended by servants. Laundry is never hung out to dry. The city has a population of 601,604 residents. Islamabad is beautiful. It is a region-wide symbol of progress, innovation and architectural marvel. It is a very safe city indeed, with very little crime rate ..and oh, by the way, there's a war going on over there, too. A US drone attack on Thursday killed six militants in Pakistan's rebel-infested northwestern tribal belt, security officials said -- the fourth strike in 24 hours. PAKISTAN police have arrested three suspects linked to a Pakistani-American accused in New York of the attempted car bombing of Times Square. The three were detained in Pakistan's capital. Last year, rescue workers searched through the gutted remains of the bombed Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital and found more bodies, bringing the death toll from the terrorist attack to 52.

Pakistan became a major exporter of heroin in the 1980s, following the influx of Afghan refugees escaping the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The major consequence of this has been a significant increase in domestic consumption of heroin. Heroin was virtually unknown in the country until the late '70s. Today, Pakistan is not only one of the main exporters of heroin, it has also become a net importer of drugs. It is estimated that about 50 tons of opium are smuggled into Pakistan for processing heroin for domestic use. Almost 80 percent of the opium processed in Pakistan comes from neighboring countries. Opium poppies have always been grown on both sides of Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, but it became the world's main exporter of heroin after the Soviet invasion. The drugs trade continues to finance not only the Taliban, but terrorism around the world.

A leading global city, New York exerts a powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment and drug abuse. New York City is one of the most significant drug destinations and distribution centers in the United States. Heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, MDMA and meth. Most of New York City’s meth supply is from the west coast via couriers who fly to the west coast, pick up pounds of meth and then return to New York. Meth abuse is encountered in the gay community, nightclub patrons, economically depressed rural neighborhoods, and motorcycle gangs. A New York City-funded guidebook for heroin users offers information on how to prepare drugs carefully and care for veins to avoid infection. The goal is to promote health and save lives.