WITH over 7m drug users in the country and given the inefficiency of the law-enforcement authorities towards the smuggling of narcotics, it is clear that much needs to be done to curb the trafficking of contraband substances. Though the smuggling of heroin dates back to the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s and the resultant influx of refugees into this country, at present around 40pc of Afghanistan’s illicit heroin and opium trade is reportedly routed through Pakistan. Today as the world observes the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we must reflect on the situation inside the country. This year’s theme is ‘Share facts on drugs, save lives’. A glance at figures and information shared by law enforcers reveals that though the use of illicit substances is very common across the country by people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, it is KP and Sindh that have a larger number of drug users — 11pc (of the population) and 6.5pc respectively, as compared to Balochistan and Punjab with 5.01pc and 4.8pc.
Meanwhile, a drastic increase in the consumption of synthetic narcotics, especially crystal meth or ice, has also been reported. Initially, the use of crystal meth was mostly restricted to urban youth, but now its consumption is more widespread. Though law enforcers try and target routes used by the traffickers, the shortage of manpower, resources and funds renders their efforts largely ineffective. They are often reports of law enforcers seizing drug shipments and arresting dealers, but it is unclear how many of the latter have been prosecuted. The process of doing so must be streamlined in the narcotics courts. In Sindh, there are two special courts for the control of narcotic substances; however, they are severely overburdened with 9,000 cases pending. KP, the most affected province has yet to establish a special court. A holistic strategy is required and coordinated efforts by the government, law enforcement, rights activists and the media needed to curb the menace of drug use in the country.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2021