ISLAMABAD: Amid a likely increase in drug use among students, the Islamabad police have asked the heads of educational institutions in the federal capital to join hands with the police to root out “the menace of violent extremism, drugs, and other illegal activities”.

A statement issued by the police said Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akbar Nasir Khan wrote letters to the universities in the jurisdiction of the federal capital and asked their heads to inform the police regarding any illegal activities on campus.

The statement said in the past, the police sent at least two letters to the varsities for the relevant details, and now another one was being dispatched for the same purpose. Also, the IGP directed station house officers (SHOs) of six police stations to step up action against the drug peddlers in their respective jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, a letter shared by the Islamabad police chief’s office said that nowadays “there is [a] high likelihood of drugs, illegal activities, and other anti-social activities inside the premises of educational institutions due to multiple factors, including free access to the premises in [the] urban area and learning institutions”.

“In this backdrop, it is requested and expected, that your kind self, being heads of educational institutions, please work proactively and in close liaison with [the] Islamabad Police and its representatives and officials in your jurisdiction and help in taking preventive action against all such illegal activities as we are bound to take action against all such cognisable offences,” it added.

The letter stressed that “preventive and proactive action” needed to be with the full support of the varsity and college administrations which were “duty-bound to act as per laws of the land to prevent violent extremism” in the country. It assured that the police would take “legal action with the help of the district administration against all offenders to eliminate the menace of violent extremism, drugs, and other illegal activities, if it exists, effectively”.

Speaking to Dawn, Dr Shahzad Ali Khan, vice chancellor of the Health Services Academy, said that collective efforts were required to tackle the menace. According to the VC, university hostels were also breeding grounds for drug use, and proposed regular inspections to discourage the use of drugs in hostels. In response to the cooperation with the police, he said the presence of the police on campuses would create problems, adding that the universities should develop their own mechanisms to deal with this issue. Dr Khan further said that there was a need to look into schools and colleges instead of varsities as students first start using drugs there.

It is worth mentioning that during the tenure of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Shehryar Khan Afridi, a minister for interior, had claimed that as many as 75 per cent of female students and 45pc of male students in the federal capital were allegedly addicted to drugs.

The issue of drug use in educational institutions first came up in 2016 when the director general of the South Asia Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) Dr Maria Sultan shared the findings of a report with the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control and claimed that 44 to 53pc of students at elite private schools were using drugs.

“We conducted a survey of 44 educational institutions, including some public sector schools. Alarmingly, we found 43-53pc students at elite schools – where students from privileged backgrounds are studying – were addicts. They are using heroin, hashish, opium, and ecstasy tablets,” Ms Sultan had claimed.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2022

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