10 Nov 2017/Friday   

Pakistan- North Korea relations known for illicit exchange of nuclear technology, have always been shrouded in secrecy but recently reported burglary of two diamonds, and a hefty Cache of liquor, with total worth $150,000, from the house of a North Korean Diplomat named Hyon in Islamabad, has raised another angle to Pakistan’s complicity in the relations that bind the two countries. At the outset, the reports are conflicting. While Reuters news agency and Pakistan Today suggest the burglars were actually the police officers but other media reports suggest the whole thing was a pure police operation to begin with. The story looks bizarre with no confirmation from North Korean Embassy.

The official theory being released to press is to suggest bootlegging on part of the diplomat. In a country where liquor is banned, some high-end elite still drink; but alcohol is notoriously hard to come by -only through black money and proper links. This demand is supposed to have created a lucrative black market across Pakistan. If that be so, North Koreans would not be the only diplomats selling their quotas to the growing black market in Islamabad. Some sources say that money raised through black market sale, may have been used by North Korea to fund its diplomatic activities, which is reeling under economic sanctions.  This theory also does not look plausible as presence of large number of North Korean diplomats in Pakistan numbering 15, exceeds far beyond their requirement. This has always put diplomatic relations of the two countries under scanner. Economically starved North Korea can certainly do with reduced diplomatic strength in Pakistan, without resorting to such illegal activities. Many embassies in Pakistan have questioned, why Pyongyang needs so many representatives, when – according to Pakistan central bank data – its official trade with Pakistan has ceased since August 2016. Pakistan Government’s silence has further deepened the mystery.

Whatever be the truth, but it is evident that, Pakistan which is under pressure from Trump Administration to curb its support to terrorist organisations and rogue countries like North Korea, is coming out with ‘difficult to digest stories’, in rapid succession. Securing release of US-Canadian couple from Af-Pak border was one such attempt to convince Americans with Pakistan’s sincerity of efforts. With these small incidents, Pakistan desperately hopes to prove that it is serious in respecting the world opinion.

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