• Opposition, treasury urge govt to take steps to curb drug abuse among youth
• Sharjeel says proposal of drug tests for students to be taken up by cabinet

KARACHI: Amid an outcry over the alarming use of synthetic drugs among students in educational institutions, treasury and opposition lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly on Monday proposed to the government to conduct random drug tests on students to curb the menace among youth.

They also suggested that the drug tests on the students intending to get admissions in private and public sector colleges and universities should be conducted and only those tested negative should be admitted to the educational institutions.

Moreover, they also proposed that the students of high schools, colleges and universities who tested positive should not be given admit cards to appear in their respective examinations.

The proposals were given during a debate on an adjournment motion tabled by Pakistan Peoples Party’s Nida Khuhro regarding the alarming usage of drugs by youth in educational institutions.

Speaking on the issue, Senior Minister Sharjeel Memon, who holds the portfolio of information, transport and excise departments, assured the members that the proposal to conduct random drug tests on students would be placed before the provincial cabinet for a decision.

Mr Memon said that if any student tested positive, their cases would be handled with complete confidentiality and the drug test results would not be shared with anyone except their parents. “This way we will track down the source supplying drugs to the students,” he added.

However, he said that there was some resistance to the proposal by some corners, but the provincial government would make efforts to reach a consensus over it with all the stakeholders.

He said that the provincial government would explore other alternatives to ascertain drug use among students if the provincial cabinet did not approve the proposal to conduct random drug tests of the students.

Mr Memon termed the synthetic drugs a “delicious poison” and said that the menace had now reached educational institutions. “These drug addicts are suicide bombers and will ultimately involve in criminal and terrorist activities,” he apprehended.

Health Minister Dr Azra Pechuho said that the increasing use of drugs was a very serious problem. “The students are easily buying synthetic drugs online and using them in their parties is now a common thing in the society,” she added.

She also talked about the growing trend of use of drugs among students for concentration during preparation of their examinations. “Later, these students become hooked to the drugs,” she added.

Ban on liquor stores sought

Minority MPA Anil Kumar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan demanded a ban on licensed liquor shops in the province, saying that the liquor was not allowed in religions of any minorities.

“At least exclude Hindu community from the list of minorities that allowed use of liquor as it’s not allowed in Hinduism,” he said.

He claimed that over 95 per cent buyers at the liquor shops were Muslims.

Deputy Speaker Anthony Naveed told Mr Kumar that he had raised a very important issue and the minority member might table a resolution in the house in this regard.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf member Rehan Rajput said that a lack of sports and recreational activities was one of the reason behind the alarming increase in drug use among youth and students.

“There is a playground in my constituency which has become a safe place for drug addicts,” he said and urged the authorities to restore the ground for public use.

Heer Soho of the PPP said that it’s time to work seriously against drugs because the use of drugs was increasing day by day. She said those who were responsible to control the menace of drug use should also be made accountable for their failure in this regard.

PTI’s Shabbir Qureshi recalled that coronavirus test was made mandatory on people, including students, to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. He urged the provincial government to conduct drug tests on students as well, saying the drug menace was much bigger issue than the epidemic.

PPP’s Sardar Khan Chandio said drugs such as ‘ice’, heroin and opium were easily available in every city and village across the province. He also confronted the statements of other lawmakers to the effect that the drugs were being smuggled in the province from other parts of the country and said that factories and laboratories of synthetic drugs were also functioning in the province.

He also disclosed that opium was also being cultivated in parts of the province. “I have pointed out cultivation of opium on 700 to 800 acres at a place in the province, but to no avail,” he added.

Mr Chandio said that the drug business could not thrive without the blessings of law enforcers. “Drugs are supplied even in police mobile vans,” he said.

Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah said that it was worrisome that use of synthetic drugs was growing among youth, who were 65 per cent of the population.

Jamaat-i-Islami lone member Muhammad Farooq said that the drug test on students should be conducted like the dope test conducted on sportspersons.

After the conclusion of the debate, the deputy speaker ruled to admit the adjournment motion and referred it to the provincial cabinet for necessary legislation in this regard.

Later, the house was prorogued.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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