Ritualistic as it is, the Pakistan government observed this past Friday yet another International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as top officials and concerned authorities made commitments to persevere in the fight against the lingering malaise of drug addiction in the country.
If anything in this fight between any two anniversaries happens we know nothing except for some reports of seizers – and, occasionally, beheading of Pakistanis drug-mules in Saudi Arabia.
It is not for use to hold any official or department responsible for this massive failure. But we cannot help taking note of the fact that the monster of drug abuse and illicit trafficking remains not only alive, but kicking.
Oft-repeated determinations and various plans to reduce drug supply, control demand and co-operative steps with others seem to be making no real headway. And this is aptly reflected in the comparative figures and some new surveys.
The first heroin manufacturer arrived in Peshawar in 1980 as he had fled the Islamic Revolution in Iran and by the end of the year some 30 heroin addicts had reported at Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital. Today, there are no less than 860,000 chronic heroin users.
The first heroin manufacturer arrived in Peshawar in 1980 as he had fled the Islamic Revolution in Iran and by the end of the year some 30 heroin addicts had reported at Peshawar Lady Reading Hospital.
And, among the newcomers not the rejected refuse of society, but students of posh academic institutions. “A survey of 10 colleges and two universities in Lahore, conducted recently, highlights some terrible facts related to drug abuse among students. The majority of students surveyed (57 percent) reported using one or more drugs,” says a specialist in the field of narco-terrorism and global heroin economy.
One would have no beef with President Mamnoon Hussain’s pride that Pakistan is among top three countries in the world in global narcotic seizures and is among the leading countries who effectively interdict through stepped up border surveillance.
But, isn’t because of the fact that Pakistan is a principal transit route for the Afghan produce and a huge consumption market itself. Even when the Pak-Afghan border is now under stiffer surveillance the problem remains that during the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan the opium production returned to its normal of 45,000 plus tons, which was earlier brought down to almost zero during the Taliban rule.
Given a long porous border between and tribes straddling on both sides of the common border effective interdiction of narcotics by Pakistani authorities is nearly impossible, though efforts in that direction should not relent. But a lot can be done, and was not done in the past for whatever reasons, to control drug abuse epidemic.
A survey of 10 colleges and two universities in Lahore, conducted recently, highlight 57 percent students use one or more drugs
As to who facilitates trafficking from the border and who manages its regular distribution this should be no secret to the concerned authorities.
If 5.3 tons of heroin was seized by Anti-Narcotics Force something like six to seven times of that quantity needed for thousands of heroin addicts on a daily basis was not.
The illicit drug business is run by a host of drug barons; while some of them enjoy political patronage others bestow it upon politicians. Consider rereading the DG Rangers’ statement he made at the Sindh apex committee meeting on June 4 and made it public next week.
As to how the problem of drug abuse plays out beyond the jurisdiction of the Narcotics Control Division that is an even more disturbing account. Why people take to drugs, how can they be kept away from it and once addicted how to rehabilitate addicts – the past question is much more challenging. Here responsibility is in reverse order: the family is required to create anti-narcotic environment at home, both by dent of advice and discipline; then civil society needs to create awareness against drug abuse and its nefarious consequences and then comes the role of state which should put in place effective, and in case of Pakistan, extensive rehabilitation network.
Unfortunately, however, if the government’s contribution in this fight against massive drug addiction is not spectacular the others too have scored miserably low. If any noticeable fight has been put up to challenge and combat the lingering menace it is by some NGOs. “In 2014, Pakistan’s drug treatment capacities remained insufficient to meet the demand, with fewer than 100 clinics operating nation-wide … Lacking government funding, over 90 percent of Pakistan’s detoxification centres are operated by non-government organisations,” say the authors of a write-up in Business Recorder.
If Pakistan cannot afford to lose the battle against terrorism and extremists, the battle against drug abuse has to be won; there is no option here too.
Source: Business Recorder