ISLAMABAD-Initially, drug addiction either begins in fun, for momentary pleasure, or just to get acceptable in a particular social circle, but it surly ends up to devastate the ill-fated individual as well as family. 

Experts believe that Pakistan’s goal to become a drug-free society can be achieved through creating awareness at the grassroots level against the deadly addiction.

It is possible to achieve the goal when people get the ability to understand the repercussions of addiction to save the future of the coming generations.

Therefore, Pakistan is striving hard to eliminate drugs to achieve the set goal of a “Drug-Free Society” besides vigorously executing its globally assigned tasks with utmost dedication and determination.

For this purpose, nationwide “Anti-Drug Awareness Campaigns” are launched across society in collaboration with public and private educational institutions to keep the younger generation safe and away from the curse. 

“The campaigns are aimed at creating awareness among students and citizens about the lethality of drugs and measures for its prevention,” a senior official of the Ministry of Narcotics Control told APP. He said the youth was Pakistan’s greatest asset, which constituted 66% of the population. “They are our future and we have to protect them from the harms of drug addiction.” Protecting the country’s youth and the future generation from the menace was inevitable for the prosperous future of Pakistan, he said, adding “To protect our youth, the ANF is working tirelessly in coordination with other law enforcing agencies of Pakistan.” 

The spokesperson of ANF said the department was playing a leading role in mass awareness and community participation programs to educate the people against drug abuse. “We are constantly putting our efforts at national and international levels.” 

He stressed the concerted efforts by all the quarters concerned to fight the menace of drug addiction, particularly among youth. The force was sparing no effort in carrying out its duties and protecting the young generation from the dangers of drugs, he said “We pledge to carry forward our manifesto with utmost determination, sincerity, and devotion.”

He informed that while conducting raids in different areas of the country, the ANF managed to recover over 4,716 kg of narcotics and arrested 81 drug smugglers during August and September only. 

Dozens of bids were also foiled to smuggle narcotics to foreign countries and the drug smugglers were sent behind the bars, the spokesperson said. “Anti-drugs efforts are underway on all fronts and the ANF is striving hard to make society drugs-free.”

He said the ANF was doing the best it could and had achieved significant successes in all three regimes of operation i.e. Drug Supply Reduction, Drug Demand Reduction and International Cooperation. “Men and women of ANF are fully committed to protecting our compatriots from the peril at cost of risk to their own lives.”

Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shazain Bugti said that his ministry wanted to recruit around 10,000 personnel from across the country to effectively combat the menace of drugs. He said the ministry had sought permission from the prime minister for the recruitment. Currently, the minister said the ministry’s staff strength was 3,600 as its personnel were performing duties at airports, ports, and other border areas.

He said the ministry was in contact with education ministries and provincial governments for the legislation to prevent drug-selling activities in educational institutions. It had been proposed to impose a fine amounting to Rs 2 million over those educational institutions where drug-selling would be found, while Rs4 million on those found involved in selling narcotics there, he added. The minister said the annual seizure of narcotics in Pakistan stood at $8 billion and drugs worth $3 billion had been recently burnt in Quetta.

 “Pakistan has recently launched the next phase of the Country Program in collaboration with the World Anti-Doping Agency, which includes separate barracks in prisons for drug addicts and a national database of drug offenders, as well as anti-drug drugs. 

In addition, a total of 40,000 people will receive special training about drugs,” he said

He said the ANF in its counter-narcotics strikes across the country has recovered 9,558 kg of drugs, and 27.784 kg of prohibited chemicals and arrested 222 accused in 2021. It also conducted 167 awareness activities to educate the masses against drugs.

The Spokesperson said that ANF has seized 618 kg opium, 558 kg heroin, 137 kg Amphetamine, 35 kg Methamphetamine (Ice), 7207 kg hashish, and 2.575 kg Xanax, Ecstasy, Alprazolam, and Roche tablets during this time span. He said that 111 drug peddlers and smugglers were awarded sentences in 2021.

He said experts working with ant-narcotics teams were confident that consistent efforts would help yield the required results and Pakistan would soon be able to achieve the status of a drug-free country among the comity of the nations.