Islamabad : Prior to observing ‘World Drugs Day and Illicit Trafficking,’ today (Wednesday) the Green Crescent invited key internationals NGOs and Foundations around the world dealing with drug abuse to Turkey for the 1st Istanbul Initiative.
These organisations are members of the recently structured ‘Drug Policy Futures’ (DPF), a global platform for a new policy based on health and wellbeing. DPF believes in engaging in an open dialogue about the strength and weaknesses of Global Drug Policies in order to create a world where people can live in dignity and the root causes leading to drug use should be addressed to voice the opinions and interests of all those who wish their communities, their families and their own lives to be free of drugs and the harm they cause.
According to a report by the Karim Khan Afridi Welfare Foundation Pakistan (KKAWF), the Declaration of the 1st Istanbul Initiative notes that the vast majority of the global population does not use illicit drugs and wants to live in communities free from drug-related harm. This silent majority supports drug prevention and investments in youth and other vulnerable populations to promote healthy behaviour, norms and environments to reach health and development for all.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, drug addiction has increased significantly over the last few decades. According to UNODC, an alarming estimate of 8.9 million are drug users and this number will tend to increase as there is a lack of youth engagement and failure of the full implementation of the Anti-Narcotic Policy 2010, which was developed to address the prevailing drug situation in the country.
The Ministry of Narcotics Control is responsible for formulating and coordinating the implementation of Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Policy. This is a shared responsibility of both government and society, together promoting the socio-economic environment and values to alleviate drug abuse. Pakistan’s Anti Narcotic Policy, a document almost perfect if implemented in letter and spirit, could achieve visible results. However, a lack of coordination with all relevant ministries and implementation partners, plus the taboo surrounding the subject, makes the policy weak and unable to address the situation. According to Chairperson KKAWF, Cristina Afridi (no relation of Minister of Narcotics Shehryar Afridi), civil society has a lot of expectations from the minister to tackle this issue with necessary urgency. The creation of a policy to regulate Drug Addiction Rehabilitation (DAR) private clinics in Pakistan to practice recognized international standard recovery methods, should be a priority.
The 1st Istanbul Initiative Declaration recognized that substance use problems don’t only affect the individual user but also adversely impact their partners, parents, siblings and children; therefore, comprehensive support services for the family and people around the user are critical to prevent harm and facilitate resilient families.
The Representatives of DPF are deeply concerned with the emergence of a new industry that promotes drug use, causing substantial harm especially to vulnerable groups. Also, this new industry is able to change the narrative, shape public policy and influence governments, international organizations and civil society for their economic gains.
While the world is commemorating ‘World Drugs Day and Illicit Trafficking,’ the DPF is closely watching the implementation of the commitments made by governments and the international community in previous years to pursue a balanced approach between demand and supply reduction and law enforcement. It is necessary to invest in prevention, treatment and health services to achieve international peace; security and the health of nations.