PESHAWAR: Officials of Pakistan Mission in Iraq have advised Pakistani nationals travelling to the republic not to carry naswar as many carrying the powdered tobacco snuff are arrested in the Middle Eastern country.
A letter from Pakistan’s embassy in Baghdad stated on Friday that some Pakistanis have reportedly been arrested by the Iraqi officials at airports for carrying naswar, mostly used by Pashtuns, after considering it something used as drugs.
The officials, while directing the letter to the director general Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Karachi, stated that Pakistanis arrested were later freed. However, it sometimes lead to problems since testing naswar for drugs takes time and during the process, Pakistanis remain in behind bars.
“In the meantime, visas of many Pakistanis also expired thus it hindered Pakistani Zaireen [pilgrims visiting holy shrines in Iraq] besides defaming the country,” the letter, a copy of which available with The Express Tribune read.
Officials privy to the development stated that some people, while pretending carrying naswar, in fact carried drugs.
“Yes, there have been cases in the past where people pretending to carry naswar in fact carried drugs and majority of such persons were arrested outside the country, in Gulf countries I mean,” a senior Anti-Narcotic Force official at Bach Khan International Airport (BKIA) informed.
The embassy has requested the CAA officials dealing with passengers to sensitise the general public against the use of naswar in Iraq, specifically adding that boards should be installed with clear messages in Urdu not to carry such items to Iraq.
They also requested the concerned officials that the visitors carrying medicines should carry medical prescription duly translated in Arabic.
A huge number of Pashtuns in or outside Pakistan use naswar as addiction and those living in Gulf countries for job, carry naswar from Pakistan or sometimes, prepare it abroad. The market of naswar in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is estimated at around Rs6 billion annually.
Besides K-P, the tobacco snuff is also used by people in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh since a huge number of Pashtuns live in other parts of the country with almost 80% of the production is traced back to Lakki Marwat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan districts.
In 2016, social workers and doctors urged the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to take measures to impose a ban on spitting and littering in public places since they have deleterious consequences on the health of the public.
Most health experts particularly pressed for imposition of a ban on spitting Naswar, smokeless tobacco powder, which they said was becoming quite common among people in the city.