Sindh, Centre join hands to crack down on drug smugglers, peddlers

Our Correspondent
May 17, 2022

The Government of Sindh and the Ministry of Narcotics Control have joined hands to eradicate drugs from society, particularly from educational institutions, and block the different routes used to...

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The Government of Sindh and the Ministry of Narcotics Control have joined hands to eradicate drugs from society, particularly from educational institutions, and block the different routes used to smuggle drugs into Karachi. They will evolve a joint mechanism and deploy the relevant forces.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah approved the forming of a task force comprising him and Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti to monitor the drug situation once a month.

The chief executive also constituted a committee comprising officials representing the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), the Sindh police and the excise police to conduct intelligence-based crackdowns on drug smugglers and peddlers.

These decisions were taken on Monday during a meeting at the CM House, where Shah and his team as well as Bugti and his team were in attendance. The CM said that the use of narcotics has been emerging at an alarming pace in society. “Drugs proliferation in Pakistan increased after the Afghan war,” he said, and cited a survey that claims Pakistan has around 6.8 million drug users.

“Slum areas serve as breeding grounds for drug abuse and trafficking. The slums of Lyari and Sohrab Goth are the main hubs of narcotics activity in Karachi.” Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon pointed out that the menace has now penetrated into the educational system. He said that both men and women are using various narcotics substances in colleges and universities.

He pointed out a strong nexus between narcotics and crime, saying that most street criminals are addicts. The drugs used by them include hashish, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, crack, amphetamines, crystal (ice) and ecstasy (barbiturates and benzodiazepines), he added.

The meeting was told that narcotics are not made in Sindh, and that they reach Karachi through four different routes, with the first one being Balochistan through Qambar, Larkana, Dadu and Jamshoro.

The second route is Balochistan through Quetta, Khuzdar, Wadh, Uthal, Gadani and Hub, the third is Punjab through Kashmore, Shikarpur, Larkana, Dadu and Jamshoro, and the fourth is Punjab through Sadiqabad, Pano Aqil, Sukkur, Khairpur, Hyderabad and Thatta.

The CM said the Sindh Assembly had passed the Control of Narcotics Substance (Sindh Amendment) Bill 2021, adding that the amended bill had included the use of synthetic drugs as a crime. “It defines narcotics drugs in two categories: category-I includes cocoa leaf, cannabis and poppy straw, while category-II includes cocaine, heroin and all manufactured drugs or any other such contraband substances.”

The city police chief told the meeting that 1,714 narcotics peddlers have been identified, of whom 396 are in jail, 440 are out on bail and 878 are at large. Prisons chief Qazi Nazir told the meeting that 22,970 prisoners — 346 drug users and 22,624 drug traffickers — have been confined in different prisons of the province. “Out of the 346 drug users, two are convicted, while out of the 22,624 drug traffickers, 727 are convicted.”

He said the drug users are kept in separate wards in jails and are regularly visited by specialists of the health department as well as prison medical officers, and they are provided with proper medication.

He also said that screening of drug users is carried out on a regular basis, and necessary treatment or therapy is provided to them inside the prison. He further said that rehabilitation measures and efforts are employed by the prison department for the reforming of drug users so that they can get rid of the habit of using narcotics and lead a normal life after being released from prison.

Nazir said that separate wards are established inside the prison for keeping drug users separate from other prisoners, adding that strict search and vigilance is carried out to prohibit the entry of narcotics inside the prison, while the articles brought by the prisoners and their visitors are thoroughly checked.

The meeting was told that the provincial government has installed baggage screening machines at the Central Jail Karachi, the Central Jail Hyderabad and the Central Jail Sukkur. The CM said his government has established two rehabilitation centres: one in Haryana Colony, Orangi, and the other in Landhi. He added that he has allocated four more buildings for setting up additional drug rehabilitation centres in the city.

On this Bugti assured the CM that the ANF is at the disposal of the provincial government, and that they will work together to purge society from the drug menace and mafia. Besides forming a task force and a joint committee, the meeting decided that the borders will be sealed and a major operation against the drug mafia will be carried out by the Sindh police, the excise & narcotics police and the ANF.

The meeting was also attended by ANF Commander Brig Viqar Haider, Maj Mohammad Ali and Abdul Salam Khetran. The CM was assisted by Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah, Excise & Narcotics Minister Mukesh Chawla, Social Welfare Minister Sajid Jokhio, law adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Sindh police chief Mushtaq Mahar and the excise secretary.

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