LAHORE: The higher authorities in Punjab Education Department are planning to seek Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF)’s help to eradicate drugs from their campuses, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.
A source in the Punjab Higher Education Department stated that the plan to involve ANF has been made in the light of surveys conducted by the different Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and media reports.
“A comprehensive plan has been chalked out in this regard. NGO workers and doctors will also be roped up to guide students about ill-effects of drugs,” he said, adding: “The plan will be implemented soon.” The source admitted that no survey has been conducted by the department as yet.
“ANF officials, college administrations and NGO workers will organise a variety of programmes such as presentations, speeches, street plays and posters. Simultaneously police will arrest drug peddlers with the information extracted from students”.
According to surveys by a number of NGOs, there are about nine million drug addicts in Pakistan, of which the two million are within the age bracket of 15 to 25 and a vast majority of them are studying in schools, colleges and universities.
About 50 per cent students in various educational institutions in Islamabad and Lahore are addicted to different kinds of drugs. The vast majority of students belong to elite class since they have no issue of affordability and have comparatively fewer checks from parents.
The alarming trend of drug abuse in educational institutions has put the lives of students at risk, both physically and mentally. Due to acute drug addiction, the students are unable to concentrate on their studies in a proper way.
Punjab Higher Education Commission Director General Human Resources Mohammad Anis admitted the prevalence of drugs in the educational institutions after surveys of NGOs. He, however, said that the exact usage in not known to him. He revealed that drugs are being used equally by both genders in colleges and universities and the ratio is very high.
Muhammad Ali, a student studying in an elite university revealed that some low-ranking officials of the varsity provide drugs to students.
Drugs suppliers have drug peddling rings in the university and they involve canteen employees in their rackets. “Canteen employees provide drugs to students on demand. Ordinary students do not know of the availability of drugs at canteens,” he said.
Muhammad Ali stated that the students who use drugs at the university come from affluent families and can easily afford drugs such hashish, LSD tablet, heroin, crystal meth and cocaine. The cost of one LSD tablet is Rs 3,000 which is not a big amount for university-goers in these institutes. Same is the case with hash and liquor.”
Drug abuse was a major social problem in Pakistan during dictator Zia-ul-Haq era in the 80s and 90s and Pakistan took years to eradicate it from the society. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s neighbour Afghanistan is still considered major drug trafficking country in the world and according to rough estimates; it exports $61 billion worth of opium annually to the world. Pakistan also faces the repercussions in different ways and widespread availability of drugs in Pakistan is largely because of Afghanistan.
The United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is celebrated on June 26 each year to raise awareness among people about harmful effects of drugs on the society.
Each year the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) selects a theme for the day and this year it was ‘Listen First’.
Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe. ‘Listen First’ is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use that is based on science and is thus an effective investment for the well-being of youth, their families and the community at large.