A crash in the price of the coca leaf, grown in the verdant mountains of South America, has the world speculating what will happen to the cocaine trade as a result. The UN in a recent report has highlighted a few effects that have already been made apparent: namely a shortfall in supply as well as a lack of buyers wanting the drug.
The infamous war on drugs – now more than four decades old – waged by the US in South America has been critiqued heavily for not producing the results it promised. Not only has it not curbed demand and supply, it has also led to the formation of powerful black markets and dangerous cartels that have wreaked havoc on civil liberty and safety.
Most importantly, drug markets throughout the world are inextricably linked to markets in Pakistan. If the COVID-19 pandemic is truly destabilizing the international drug trade, Pakistan can also expect to see favorable results within its own borders. Already, the opium market in Afghanistan that took advantage of trafficking routes through Pakistan has taken a hit due to lack of workers for field harvests.
However, assuming these detrimental effects will be permanent would be akin to living in a fool’s paradise. In a recent news report, there is mention of how the pandemic is acting as a better deterrent for the drug trade than anti-drug war efforts themselves (source: The Washington Post). But the fact is, trade is already picking up. The aforementioned UN report states that as border restrictions ease up, trafficking via airspaces is increasing.
In Pakistan as well, cocaine use is no new thing. Although it is one of the more expensive drugs on the market, it is also happens to be a favourite. People often have private dealers who supply them with high quality cocaine, and have no qualms regularly snorting the drug at parties or even restaurants.
With the amount of effort drug mafias have expended in legitimising their drug dollars and amassing clout through bloody gang wars, they won’t let the deadly white powder become obsolete at any cost.