Myanmar must do more to stop drug trafficking: Daily Star

DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – In a bid to stop drugs such as yaba and crystal meth-popularly known as ice-from pouring into Bangladesh from Myanmar, the former has rightly made a proposal to India to hold a tripartite meeting with Myanmar to put diplomatic pressure on its government to curb drug trade in the region.

For nearly a decade, Bangladesh has sought Myanmar’s cooperation in preventing cross-border drug trafficking. Despite many assurances, however, the Myanmar authorities have failed to take any meaningful action.

Myanmar has been a hotbed of drug production and trafficking for many decades. During the last decade in particular, yaba has been pouring into Bangladesh through the Myanmar border, with the amount being seized increasing rapidly every year.

Over this period, the Bangladesh authorities have met with their Myanmar counterparts a number of times. On October 27, 2013, the Department of Narcotics Control sent a list of 37 yaba factories inside Myanmar to its Yangon counterpart, the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, urging it to take action. The two sides met again in 2015, but Myanmar officials walked away without signing the joint minutes, leaving their promises empty on paper.

Later meetings between the two sides produced similar results-with the Bangladesh side handing over lists of drug factories in Myanmar, and the Myanmar side refusing to sign the joint minutes and taking very little visible action with the list handed to them.

Although it is still unclear why they have been so reluctant to collaborate in eradicating the drug problem-which has been plaguing not only Bangladesh, but the region as a whole-the fact remains that Bangladesh must protect its national interest and stop the inflow of drugs in any way possible. In that regard, India could play a key role in finding a breakthrough in the negotiations with Myanmar-especially since India, too, has been dealing with the inflow of drugs from Myanmar.

Meanwhile, the influx of certain drugs from India to Bangladesh has also remained a headache for the local authorities. So, the chances of all three countries successfully fighting the drug problem would be much better if they all worked together.

We are hopeful that the Indian authorities will agree to the final proposal for the tripartite meeting and grant Bangladesh all the necessary assistance during the negotiations. What remains problematic, however, is getting the Myanmar authorities to stick to their words.

With that in mind, Bangladesh needs to use all its diplomatic channels as well as heighten security measures as part of a multi-pronged drive against drugs entering the country.

  • The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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