Addicts on the high


Pupils dilated until the whites of their eyes can’t be seen, sprawled on roadsides, itchy and malnourished – drug addicts are not hard to pin, and have of late become an alarmingly common sight in the capital city. The sale and consumption of heroin, hashish and garda is increasing with each passing day and goes unchecked in the federal capital, which has badly affected the youth as more young people are becoming addicted.
While surveying the city, Pakistan Today witnessed more than 30 addicts, including three young girls, using heroin under a bridge situated at Sabzimandi Pir Wadhai, which is only a few yards away from the Sabzimandi police station. For the first time, female heroin addicts were openly seen in the federal capital. Narrating her tale, heroin addicted Kiran Bibi,18, told Pakistan Today that she had been taking heroin for the last two years.
“After my divorce, I became an addict by choice. Now I’m waiting for death as it is difficult to get rid of this menace which has had such an adverse affect on my health,” she said, in a voice cracking with pain. When asked whether any NGO representative had ever visited and offered her free of cost treatment to get rid of addiction, she said, “The representatives of NGOs have no interest in poor addicts ….they are just working in the sector from where they can receive money.”
Meanwhile, two other colleagues of Kiran in their early 20s refused to talk. The city’s suburban areas, especially the areas of Sabzimandi and Golra have become hubs of heroin sale and abuse. Meanwhile, the sale of garda and hashish is rising in the city’s G-7 area which falls in the limits of Aabpara police station, Bari Imam which falls in the jurisdiction of the Secretariat police station and Mara Abadi, a suburb area of the city which falls within the limits of the Golra police station.
Police authorities, however, have failed to clamp down on dealers, as they have allegedly been receiving hefty shares from drug dealers in return for their cooperation. In the absence of adequate response from the authorities, an aged heroin addict, Nadeem Ahmed, came up with a unique idea to eliminate the menace of drug addiction, saying that only the Pakistan Army could purge the country. He said that since police had failed to control drug dealing, the army should be given this task, to save the future generations of Pakistan.
Talking to Pakistan Today, addicts disclosed some shocking facts regarding how they became heroin addicts. Males between the ages of 17 and 40 were among the most affected, and it was found that most of them belonged to low or middle income households and became addicted to heroin unknowingly. While canvassing the said areas, Pakistan Today noticed how dealers employed various mechanisms to get people hooked to drugs, being particularly devious in their methods when dealing with the youth, to ensure they were irrevocably addicted.
“Some six months ago, while crossing the nullah, I was trapped by a man, who turned out to be a heroin addict and a drug dealer. On his insistence, I took only one puff. Since that day I became a drug addict. For the first three days the agent provided me heroin free of cost, but when he had ensured I was hooked, he started charging money,” said Muhammad Ismail, lying on the banks of the Pirwadai Nullah. He continued that most addicts were injecting the drug, a cheaper method despite the health risks.
One intravenous hit cost around Rs 500, while smoking through a pipe cost up to Rs 1,000, he said. A heroine joint can give people mood swings, jitters and back spasms, said Ismail. “At first people love it, but once hooked they have no choice but to feed their addiction,” Ismail added. Ijaz Ahmed, who runs a bus stand near Bridge-Nullah said he had been seeing addicts under the Sabzimandi Nullah bridge for the last three years, their numbers rapidly increasing with each passing day. Docile, unproductive and anti-social, they don’t need friends, music, or company, he said.
During background discussion with the police, reasons for their reluctance to take action against addicts and dealers were revealed. Firstly, the police have to bear expenses of heroin addicts in custody: from providing them food to cigarettes and sometimes heroin as well. Secondly, no one from their families comes to claim them, thus they are a burden on the institution.
When asked if they were in contact with dealers, the addicts had no knowledge about the drug lord’s network.
Drug addicts present a threat to society as they are liable to turn into criminals. When interviewed addicts were not able to answer queries related to their source of income: most resort to petty crimes such as thieving to support their drug related activities.
Like other people of the country, the addicts are also affected by skyrocketing inflation. “Two year ago one ‘token’ was available for Rs 50, but now the same amount costs three times more,” said Arshad Ali, a heroin addict. Muhammad Naeem, spokesman for Islamabad police confirmed that the area of Sabzimandi, Golra and Bari Imam areas were centres of drug users and dealers.
However, he denied allegations that the police patronised dealers, saying they were doing their best to arrest all people involved in this social evil. “During on-going year, we have recovered 18 kgs of heroin from the custody of various smugglers,” he said.