Drug usage, selling continues to rise

Even strict laws, harsh punishments are not having the desired impact

Muhammad Ilyas March 19, 2024


Despite strict laws, which come with harsh punishments, drug usage and peddling has continued unabated in Punjab, leading to crowded prisons and a choked justice system.

According to numbers received by the provincial prisons department, as many as 12,500 individuals are currently behind bars for various drug related offences. However, it seems that even jail time is not a deterrent for drug users and peddlers, which has put a question mark on the efficacy of the policing in the country’s largest province.

In this regard, Syed Zulfiqar Hussain, Consultant for an Anti-Drugs Narcotics Campaign, opined, “while anti-drug laws, like the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, impose harsh punishments, the implementation of the law seems to be lacking.”

“Sections 9a, 9b, and 9c are amongst the strictest provisions of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, so much so that individuals cannot even get bail in an offence relating to section 9c. However, drug dealers and users alike do not seem to be deterred by such provisions. Instead, we are seeing a dramatic rise in drug selling and usage,” explained Hussain.

“There is data to indicate that usage of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD, have risen in the past year,” he added.

Given Hussain’s assertions, the Express Tribune spoke with Mian Naseem, a Lahore based lawyer, regarding the inefficacy of the police, who concurred with Hussain. “There are different categories of drug cases, if up to 100 grams of any sort of drug is recovered from someone's possession, it is put under the 9a category. In case of recovery of up to 1 kilogram of drugs, it is put in the category of 9b, while a recovery of more than 1 kilogram is put in the 9c category. These provisions should be implemented to deter drug usage and selling,” the lawyer recommended.

However, human rights activist Abdullah Malik, believes that enough people are already in jail due to drug related offences, therefore the government should reconsider its anti-drugs policing. “The government needs to establish rehabilitation centres for drug addicts. It seems that jailing people is not serving the desired purpose as they end up using drugs in prison as well,” said Malik.

When asked about the apparent policing failure and drug peddlers and users languishing in jail for years on end, Inspector General Prisons Punjab, Farooq Nazir, was of the view that the provincial police was doing its best to curtail the spread of drugs. “12,500 prisoners in 43 different jails of the province are serving time for drug related offences. We are conducting drug busts daily and are trying to expedite the trials of the accused to deter others from selling or using drugs,” informed Nazir while talking to the Express Tribune.


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