India remains on White House 'major' list on drug trade

New York : India continues to remain on the White House list of countries that are "major" transit points for or producer of illicit drugs.


The annual list was released on Tuesday as US President Donald Trump prepared for a global campaign against drugs at the UN later in September.

The 21 countries on it include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mexico and Colombia.

India has been on the list since 2004 when President George W. Bush first issued it under a 2003 law enacted by Congress and President Barack Obama continued to keep it there.

India's inclusion on the list has been a point of friction between New Delhi and Washington.

A country's presence on the list "is not necessarily a reflection of its government's counter-narcotics efforts or level of cooperation with the US," Trump said in his memorandum.

"The reason countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced, even if a government has engaged in robust and diligent narcotics control measures," he clarified.

Significantly, the list has not included any Western countries even though they have figured transit points for drugs.

Nigeria, Brazil, Vietnam and Thailand, which had figured on the original and some subsequent lists are no longer on it.

Trump is scheduled to preside over a high-level meeting of the Security Council on the drug menace on September 24 and issue a global call to action on the world drug problem, US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley announced last week.

Trump has made battling the crisis of opioid addiction that has gripped the US a priority and even suggested that the nation should consider death penalty for drug dealers.

According to the US government more than 72,000 people died from drug overdose in 2017, nearly 50,000 of them from using opioids, including misuse of pharmaceuticals.

Trump said in his memorandum, "My Administration is committed to addressing all factors fuelling this drug crisis, which is devastating communities across America, including steps to curb over-prescription, expand access to treatment and recovery programs, improve public education programs to prevent illicit drug use before it begins, and to strengthening domestic drug enforcement at our borders and throughout our nation."

"Alongside these massive and historic US efforts, I expect the governments of countries where illicit drugs originate and through which they transit to similarly strengthen their commitments to reduce dangerous drug production and trafficking," he added.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)