Schools term minister’s allegations of students’ drug use ‘baseless’

Published December 21, 2018
PM asked to take notice of Shehryar Afridi's claim that 75pc of female students and 45pc male students use drugs such as crystal meth. — File photo
PM asked to take notice of Shehryar Afridi's claim that 75pc of female students and 45pc male students use drugs such as crystal meth. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Representatives of private educational institutions of the federal capital have said the statements made by State Minister for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi regarding excessive drug use by students are “baseless”.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, representatives of a joint action committee of Islamabad’s private educational institutions said Mr Khan had quoted the findings of a baseless survey report regarding drug use by students.

On Monday, the minister had said at the launch of an initiative for child rights training for the police that a survey had indicated that 75pc of female students and 45pc male students use drugs such as crystal meth.

Operators of private schools demanded the prime minister take notice of the issue and said the minister should not have quoted the survey.

Though the minister had not mentioned the name of the survey, the school operators said Mr Khan appeared to be quoting a survey by South Asia Strategic Stability Institute, headed by Dr Maria Sultan.

During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior in Oct 2016, Dr Sultan had claimed that according to the survey, 53pc of students from elite private schools are addicted to drugs. She had surveyed 44 institutions.

“We conducted a survey of 44 educational institutions, including some public sector schools. Alarmingly, we found 43pc to 53pc of students at elite schools – where students from privileged backgrounds are studying – were addicts.

They are using heroin, hashish, opium and ecstasy tablets,” Dr Sultan had told the senate committee in 2016.

When Dawn had asked her in 2016 to share the report, she had refused in order to “protect the identities of the students and institutions”.

However, the very next day, her report had been rejected by private schools and those run by the federal government saying that no one had contacted them for conducting a survey.

The state minister is said to have based his allegations on the same survey.

Meanwhile, according to an official statement issued on Thursday, at the end of a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, which met at Parliament House, the committee chairman, Rehman Malik said: “All of us are concerned by the statement of the minister for interior that 75pc female students and 45pc male students take crystal meth in the capital”.

Mr Malik said the figures were disturbing and that the government should take serious action. He asked the interior ministry to apprise the committee on the subject and on the action it has taken after being informed of such drastic statistics for drug use among students,

He said he had taken notice of drug supply to educational institutions in Islamabad and had ordered a crackdown against the drug mafia, which had also led to the construction of a boundary wall around Quaid-i-Azam University.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2018

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