ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control on Wednesday declared war against drugs across Pakistan while expressing deep concern over reports of increased use of drugs by students in schools of Islamabad having rich family background.
A shocking report presented before the Senate committee revealed that up to 53 percent students of large private schools in Islamabad were addicted to drugs.
The report prepared by a non-government organisation (NGO) stated that 44 to 53 percent students of large private schools in the federal capital were addicted to various kinds of drugs. The addicts are either provided intoxicants by their fellows or teachers, which added to the astonishment of the committee members.
Dr Maria Sultan, Director General of South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI), attended the meeting as special invitee. “The average age of students in the private schools, in which nearly 44 to 53 percent of pupils are taking either artificial or hard drugs or were addicted to heroin, is in the age groups 12-16 and 16-19,” she said.
“Pupils use drugs during study hours, while they also include some students as young as eight-year-olds,” it said. “At some schools the intoxicants are available at canteens, while addicts also get them easily from street vendors.”
The shocking revelations left the members of the Senate committee appalled, who sought an inquiry report into the matter within 15 days. The committee also summoned the IG Islamabad and chief secretaries of the concerned meeting, headed by the committee Chairman Abdul Rehman Malik, that drug test should be made mandatory in educational institutions to arrest trend of drug addiction in the youth. The committee suggested that mobile teams of Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) should visit schools. Malik said that many children from rich background were drug addicts.
"Hundreds of people die every day in the country due to drug-related complications. I declare war on drugs and appeal to the armed forces, the civil society, politicians and media to play their due role for welfare of those suffering from addiction and help save our coming generations," Malik said. He wanted that all television channels should devote 0.5 percent of air time to raise awareness on devastating affects caused of drug addiction.
Malik was of the view that drug business had a serious role in promoting terrorism. He said Afghanistan and India were involved in spreading drugs. He said alarming situation of drug addiction could not be tolerated anymore. The meeting was told that Afghanistan was the top drug-producing nation, but the United States and Europe had their eyes shut on this bitter reality. Moreover, he said, 40 percent of all drugs coming from Afghanistan routed through Pakistan onwards to other countries.
The committee will lead a campaign against drugs, a walk against drugs will be held at Constitution Avenue and media and civil society and NGOs have been appealed to participate in campaign against drugs. "It is a time to take strong action against drug dealers across the country, agencies must identify black sheep among themselves who are abetting drugs smugglers and dealers,” he said.
“Drug is as much dangerous as much terrorism is and those dealing with drugs are no less bad than terrorists," he said and added that punishment must be increased and necessary legislation was need of the hour. Malik appreciated chief ministers of all four provinces and law enforcement agencies for maintaining peace during Muharram across the country. He said efforts and sacrifices of our security agencies are highly appreciable and much-admirable and will not go waste.
“Keeping in view the alarming situation of drug addiction, particularly among the students, the committee chairman declared war on drugs which was fully endorsed by the committee. He said Afghanistan on one hand is supplying death in shape of terrorism and on the other hand in collaboration with India it is involved in spreading of drugs. Expressing grave concerns over the supply of drugs in reputable educational institutions in the capital city, Rehman Malik said that strict action to be taken against those schools and owners where drugs are being supplied easily.
In this backdrop, the committee recommended that more strict measures be taken by the government and strict legislation should be enacted in this regard. Malik proposed that it should be made mandatory for every public and private school, college and university to have a drug test of every student at least twice a year and the report should be checked by the ANF.
Senators Shahi Syed, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan, Syed Shibli Faraz, Mukhtar Ahmed Dhamra, Muhammad Saleh Shah, Talha Mehmood, senior officials of the Ministry of Interior and Narcotics Control, ANF and Islamabad Police attended the meeting.
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