Karachi and Sukkur are the main hubs of narcotics in Sindh.

The Anti-Narcotics Force’s (ANF) joint director for Sindh, Colonel Asim, said this while addressing a seminar on prevention of drug abuse organised by the department of social work, Karachi University (KU), in the departmental conference room.

According to Colonel Asim, narcotics are destroying our society and youth. He said that the world’s drug economy is worth $435 billion and around $225 billion is needed for drug treatment of patients globally. He said that Karachi and Sukkur are the main hubs of narcotics in Sindh, with the most commonly recovered drug in Pakistan being hashish, followed by heroin, opium and cocaine. According to him, heroin has even been found in juice bottles.

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Lyari, Baldia, Golimar, Hub Chowki, New Karachi, Orangi Town and Saddar are the areas where most of the drug addicts reside in, said Colonel Asim. According to him, 59% of the drug addicts in Pakistan belong to the 20-29 age group. Only 1% of drug addicts are graduates and 57% of them are unemployed while 47% take drugs due to peer pressure, he added.

Colonel Asim shared that 685 deaths per day are occurring daily in the world due to drug usage or overdose, which is higher than the number of deaths resulting from terrorism. Global drug trade occurring from Afghanistan makes its way from Pakistan, which is why we are the most affected, he said. According to him, 40% of narcotics from Afghanistan are smuggled to other countries through Pakistan.

The joint director stressed that that police and excise and taxation department have the responsibility to stop drug usage on streets. Talking about the performance of the ANF, he said that 215 metric tons of narcotics worth over $3 billion were seized by the ANF last year. Colonel Asim said that $300 is the worth of 1 gramme of heroine. The largest consignment we seized till date is 375 kilogrammes of heroin. “ANF Pakistan has been declared one of the best anti-narcotics agencies of the world by the United Nations Office of Drugs Control,” he added.

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According to him, major signs of drug abuse are sleep disturbance, emotional instability, irresponsible behaviour and loss of decision-making power.

Farheen Naveed from Drug-Free Pakistan Foundation, Rev Julian Justin from Ibtida Drug Rehabilitation Centre, South Investigation SSP Faizullah Korejo and Prof Dr Ahmed Qadri, the dean of faculty of social sciences at KU, were also present on the occasion.

In his speech, SSP Korejo termed drugs a cancer for society. According to him, the major causes of drug usage are poverty, unemployment and illiteracy.

Sharing his experience, he said when he was posted at Lyari, a small packet of chars was available for barely Rs100 while heroin cost around Rs500. Children from rich and educated families are using and providing drugs for enjoyment purposes, he said, adding that street children are more vulnerable to drugs since they have no one to guide them. Mostly, drugs are available for sale on bus terminals, he said.

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Discussing the laws pertaining to drug abuse, Korejo added that there is no punishment for drug abuse according to the law if you can carry less than 100 grammes of it. If the amount exceeds 100 grammes, you could be convicted of drug trade, he said.

“Former Army Chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif must be given credit for ordering the fencing of Pak-Afghan border since it will curtail the drug trade from Afghanistan to Pakistan by up to 85%,” added SSP Korejo.

Dr Muhammad Shahid of KU’s social work department emphasised the need for rehabilitation, counselling and awareness on drugs prevention. “We must organise such seminars in order to raise awareness especially for our youth and students,” he said.