Around 7 million drug addicts in Pakistan, Senate told

Updated July 06, 2015

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The committee was apprised that Pakistan had been declared a “poppy-free” country since 2011.– AFP/File
The committee was apprised that Pakistan had been declared a “poppy-free” country since 2011.– AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control was told Monday that around seven million people in Pakistan are drug addicts, while 700 people die every day in the country due to drug-related complications.

The committee, chaired by Senator Rehman Malik, was briefed by the director general (DG) of Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) on the steps undertaken by the Narcotics Control Division for the welfare of those suffering from addiction.

Briefing the committee, ANF DG Maj Gen Khawar Hanif said of an estimated seven million drug addicts in Pakistan, a staggering three million were those who used medicines without prescription.

He said drug-related deaths were greater than those caused by terrorism— the latter kills 39 each day compared to the 700 deaths from drug addiction every day.

The committee was apprised that Pakistan had been declared a “poppy-free” country since 2011. But the area under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased from 7,000 hectors to 225,000 hectors, the committee was told.

Responding to a question, the ANF DG said officials from 32 countries had been deputed in Pakistan for narcotics control but no Pakistani official had served abroad— except in Iran.

ANF has four hospitals to rehabilitate addicts, while another was being established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Of the 33 approved ANF police stations, 28 were active, the Senate body was apprised.

The ANF DG lamented that his force received no direct funding from other sources, which resulted in complete dependence on the ministry of finance.

“But Saudi Arabia provided us with scanners that were installed at Wagha border and negotiations are ongoing with China for provision of equipment,” he said.

Maj Gen Hanif said major problems plaguing the ANF concerned equipment and accommodation.

He informed the committee that 106 drug gangs, including 13 international gangs, had been busted this year with drug confiscations amounting to Rs550 million. Around 344 people have been prosecuted in 2015, while 426 were prosecuted in 2014; 540 in 2013 and 552 in 2012.

After the briefing, the Senate committee chief, Rehman Malik, said all television channels should devote 0.5 per cent of air time to raise awareness on the devastations of drug addiction. Malik was of the view that the drug business had a serious role in promoting terrorism.

Secretary Narcotics Control Muhammad Ghalib Ali said the government had framed various laws to curb the menace of drug trafficking, adding that there was no nexus between terrorism and drug cartels in Pakistan.

The meeting was attended by Senators Shahi Syed, Chaudhary Tanvir Khan, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini and other senior officials.