Pakistan became the third largest recipient of US military aid in the world, behind only Israel and Egypt. Much of that aid was going to arm the mujahadeen who launched raids into Afghanistan, seizing large chunks of real estate. A pattern emerged.
Each time the Hezbi-i Isbmi secured land they immediately planted it to poppies. Between 1982-1983 opium harvests along the Afghan/Pakistani border doubled in size and by 1984 Pakistan was exporting 70% of the world’s heroin.  During that time the CIA Station in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, became the largest spook den in the world. Golden Crescent heroin output surpassed that of the Golden Triangle just as the CIA began its biggest operation since Vietnam.
While Hekmatyar’s troops planted poppies, mujahadeen leader Sayed Ahmed Gailani was supplying the Turkish Gray Wolves syndicate with Pathan opium. The Gray Wolves’ Iranian supply had dried up when their good friend the Shah was deposed and Iranian revolutionaries cracked down on the country’s heroin epidemic. Gailani was a wealthy Afghan aristocrat with ties to former King Zaher Shah. He owned the Peugeot dealership in Kabul and his drug smuggling was underwritten by the Saudis.  A 1989 State Department report admitted that Afghanistan had become the world’s leading source of heroin.
One important CIA golden rule is the concept of deniability. By having Hekmatyar’s troops plant poppies just inside Afghanistan, the Company had two layers of deniability. First, Hekmatyar’s troops planted the poppies in their CIA surrogate role and it could be said that they were “rogues acting alone”. Second, and more importantly, the poppies were growing on enemy turf so the Company could claim the Afghan government was responsible, just as they had tried to do to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua with ill-fated spook photographer Barry Seal at the wheel.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar followed squarely in the footsteps of Vang Pao, Phoumi Nosavan and Khun Sa, the CIA heroin lords of the Golden Triangle. Soon Hekmatyar was recognized as the world’s heroin kingpin. Alfred McCoy, in his book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, first exposed the CIA’s role in facilitating the guns-for-drugs quid pro quo. He terms the CIA approach “radical pragmatism”. This same approach would seem to belie the Company’s penchant for backing Islamic extremists. An estimated $8 to $10 billion worth of heroin was exported from Pakistan during the time the CIA supported the mujahadeen. The poppies were planted in Afghanistan. Harvested opium was taken over the mountains by mule into Pakistan where ISI, Pakistani military brass and BCCI thugs took over.
In 1978 Lieutenant General Fazle Haq was appointed governor of Northwest Frontier Province where Peshawar became an arms supermarket for the mujahadeen and home to hundreds of heroin refineries. Haq was one of the largest depositors at BCCI, President Zia’s closest confidant and a good friend of Zia’s son, who ran the BCCI Karachi branch. Haq became de facto overlord for mujahadeen operations and provided protection for the heroin labs. Hekmatyar himself ran six labs further south in Baluchistan Province. A State Department Narcotics Suppression Officer based in Islamabad accused US Ambassador to Pakistan Ronald Spiers of refusing to forward any evidence of Pakistani military officials’ involvement in the heroin trade to DEA, though it was widely known that Haq and others were key players. 
In the 1980’s Pakistan became the world’s poster child for political corruption. The Islamabad junta’s unflagging support for Reagan’s mujahadeen was at the root of the corruption. A senior US official stated that, “key Hekmatyar commanders close to the ISI run heroin laboratories in southwest Pakistan and the ISI cooperates in heroin operations”.  In September 1985 the Pakistan Herald reported that military trucks belonging to the National Logistics Cell of the Pakistan Army were being used to transport arms from the Port of Karachi to Peshawar on behalf of the CIA, and that those same trucks were returning to Karachi sealed by the Pakistani military and loaded with heroin. The practice, according to the Herald, had been going on since 1981, just as Hekmatyar’s forces began planting poppies.
Time magazine reported that on April 19, 1989 a ship originating in Columbia passed through Fiji and the Philippines then docked at the Port of Karachi. A CIA agent was waiting there to take charge of the unloading. Pakistani Customs officials were paid $100,000 by agents working with BCCI’s Black Network to look the other way while some cargo was offloaded onto Pakistani army trucks. Another part of the cargo was loaded onto an unmarked Boeing 707. The plane was given priority clearance to take off, forcing a scheduled Pakistan International Airlines flight to abort takeoff at the last minute. The 707 flew to Prague where there was a booming black market in Soviet weapons thanks to the Reagan Administration’s efforts to destabilize Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. 
Two high-ranking Pakistani military officers were caught with 220 kilos of heroin, but were never prosecuted. The US had seventeen DEA agents stationed in Pakistan. During their tenure they made no arrests. Golden Crescent heroin captured 60% of the US market where bricks of hashish appeared stamped with a logo of two crossed AK-47 assault rifles circled by the words, “Smoke out the Soviets”. From 1982-1992, roughly the period of US involvement in Afghanistan, heroin addiction in the US rose by 50%. 
There was evidence that President Zia himself was involved in the heroin trade. In 1984 a Pakistani national named Hamid Hashain was caught smuggling heroin into Norway. During a routine search of Hashain, customs officials found original copies of President Zia’s personal bank statements. The incident caused a major scandal in Pakistan, where allegations of Zia’s corruption grew louder. The US increasingly saw him as a liability.
In 1988 Zia’s helicopter went down in a ball of fire. Both he and US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphael were killed. The crash bore an eerie resemblance to the one that killed Panama’s President Omar Torrijos in 1981 which even General Noriega, who rose to power because of Torrijos’ death, later claimed was a CIA assassination. The US blamed the Soviets and US Air Force officials cordoned off the wreckage, barring Pakistani authorities from investigating the crash. Reagan offered his condolences, citing Zia as, “a strong supporter of anti-narcotics activities in Pakistan”.
Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com