ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee was on Thursday astonished to learn about threats to country’s security and health due to drug trafficking and consumption.
The Senate Committee on Science and Technology was informed by its chairman Mushtaq Ahmed that 70pc girl and 40pc boy students, particularly in universities, were addicted to life threatening drugs.
The quantum of drug trafficking through Pakistan is worth more than double of the country’s defence budget, he said, quoting different reports and studies.
“More dangerously, 7.6 million young population of the country is addicted to drugs which is more than the combined population of 42 United Nations (UN) member countries,” said Mr Ahmed.
Senate committee chairman says quantum of drug trafficking through Pakistan is worth more than double of country’s defence budget
They are increasingly becoming addicted to ice, hash and heroin. The government must make a multipronged strategy to fight drug trafficking, particularly stop drug smuggling at borders and dry up its sources. International players are involved in drug trafficking through Pakistan, Mr Ahmed added.
“Awareness must be spread by including education against drugs a part of the curriculum. There should be zero tolerance in educational institutions against drugs,” said the committee chairman.
The committee observed that drug addiction brought its own set of problems such as crime, violence, theft and terrorism. The lawmakers stressed dope testing in educational institutions without mentioning names of children.
Senator Nuzhat Sadiq suggested involving individuals who have fought addiction as role models.
Senator Syed Mohammad Sabir Shah said the bigger challenged was to stop more children from becoming addicts.
“Agencies spying on politicians will do a greater service by fighting a much serious war on drug trafficking in the country,” he remarked.
An official from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) informed the meeting that it had directed all universities to declare their campuses smoke free. Additional measures included discouraging kiosks and cart pushers from setting up outside or in proximity to campuses.
The official said a policy had been devised to address lack of capacity for drug screening.
Under the policy, screening drug addicts will be a priority besides their social inclusion.
“Additional funds are needed to implement drug screening in educational institutions. Awareness campaigns with law enforcement agencies have also been proposed, especially asking students addicted to open up,” the official added.
The members described higher education as a dying industry after they were informed that the budget for universities had been cut from Rs103.5 billion to Rs59bn in the current financial year.
“The government must release at least Rs21bn to make ends meet in the current financial year. Universities are in financial straits and the burden is being passed on to students by increasing the fees,” lamented the chairman.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2020