In recent years, the India-Pakistan border in Punjab has become a battleground for a sinister alliance between Pakistani smugglers and pro-Khalistan entities, raising serious concerns about the increasing threat of narco-terrorism. The Border Security Force (BSF) has reported a staggering 593 drone sightings since 2019, revealing a disturbing trend that demands urgent attention.
Pakistani smugglers are employing sophisticated UAVs to infiltrate narcotics into India, posing a severe challenge to the security apparatus on the Indian side. The recovery of 82 unmanned aerial vehicles along with alarming statistics on drone sightings underscores the gravity of the situation. This modus operandi has far-reaching implications, as it is believed that the funds generated from drug trafficking are being funneled into financing and arming pro-Khalistan entities (PKEs) on the Indian side.
Central agencies have pointed to a symbiotic relationship between Pakistani smugglers and PKEs. The latter, in return for financial support, are allegedly aiding in establishing “cross-border linkages” and providing assistance to Pakistan intelligence operatives (PIOs). The dangerous collusion between drug traffickers and those with separatist motives paints a picture of a narco-terrorism network thriving along the India-Pakistan border.
A rare admission by Malik Mohd Ahmad Khan, Special Assistant on Defence to then Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif, confirmed in July that Pakistani smugglers were increasingly utilizing drones to transport drugs into India. This revelation underscores the audacity with which these illicit activities are being conducted, posing a significant challenge to the security forces on both sides of the border.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) reports that drone sightings have predominantly occurred within a range of 2-10 kilometers of the International Border in Punjab. The recovered drone payloads are deeply troubling, including a cache of 317 kg heroin, 10 kg RDX, 10 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), 512 firearms, 56 hand grenades, 12 AK-47 rifles, 128 pistols, and Rs 18 lakh in cash. These findings suggest a well-coordinated effort to destabilize the region through a lethal combination of narcotics and weaponry.
The involvement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in supporting this narco-terrorism network is a serious allegation. The claim that drug smugglers are doubling as weapons suppliers for ISI-backed activities underscores the nexus between narcotics and terrorism. The security establishment asserts that there is ample evidence to substantiate this claim, necessitating swift and decisive action to dismantle this dangerous network.
In response to this escalating threat, the BSF has adopted counter-drone technology along the border, while the Punjab Police has constituted a special task force to investigate drug-related cases. Additionally, the MHA’s annual report for 2023 highlights that states and central armed police forces have undergone specialized training in drone and anti-drone operations at the National Security Guard (NSG) center in Manesar.
The figures are alarming. Thirty arrests and 27 FIRs by the Punjab Police, specifically targeting individuals involved in drugs and weapons-related activities, indicate a proactive response. Thirteen FIRs against Pakistani nationals in narco-terror cases underscore the international dimensions of this crisis. However, it is evident that more collaborative efforts are required to effectively dismantle this narco-terrorism network.
As India faces the dual challenge of border security and the insidious influence of narco-terrorism, it is imperative for the international community to acknowledge and condemn Pakistan for continuing these activities.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.