Pakistan major ally in war against drugs: PM
* Aziz urges media to play proactive role
* 4 million drug addicts in the country, of which 0.5 million are heroin addicts
RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said that narcotics is a global issue and Pakistan will have to play a vital role in eradicating this menace from the world.
Talking to journalists after attending a briefing at the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) Headquarters on Thursday, he said the government would help eradicate this menace from its territory by providing drug cultivators with alternate means of earning their living. Ghaus Buksh Mehar, federal anti-narcotics minister, Major-General Nadeem Ahmad, Director General (DG) ANF, and other ANF officials were present on the occasion.
The prime minister commended ANF’s efforts in eradicating drugs, actively prosecuting drug smugglers, as well as launching a demand reduction campaign across the country, and assured the officials of the government’s full support in the war against drugs.
The premier directed the DG ANF to take appropriate steps to rid the country of drugs and said the media could play a pivotal and proactive role in this regard.
“We will have to make a joint effort for creating awareness against drug abuse and the treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug addicts into society,” he underlined.
The premier also highlighted another important issue –families of drug addicts having little knowledge about drug rehabilitation centres.
“Many times people do not know where to take their kids. This is our responsibility and we will facilitate the media in creating awareness in this respect,” he said.
Responding to a query, he said that poppy cultivation in neighbouring Afghanistan was an acknowledged fact and was a matter of grave concern for the global community. “We have discussed the matter with the Afghan government and are hopeful that they will take action against drug producing laboratories situated in the country,” he added.
Earlier in his briefing, Maj Gen Ahmad told the premier about the working of ANF and the narcotics situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The prime minister was informed that in the 2003-04, the total area under drug cultivation in Pakistan was 6,694 hectares, out of which the crop had been eliminated from 78 percent of the area. During the year 2004, 7,783 kg of heroin, 679 kg of opium and 5,711 kg of hashish were seized by ANF.
From January 1, 2005, to February 6, 2005, ANF seized a total of 1,359 kg of opium, 1,654 kg of heroin and 3,719 kg of hashish. Total assets worth Rs 4.107 billion were frozen, while assets worth Rs 457.154 million were forfeited.
The DG ANF expressed his concern over the record cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan. He said that 72 metric tonnes (MT) of heroin were seized in the region last year. The domestic consumption was approximately 112 MT. Since the total production in Afghanistan translated into 360 MT, there was still scope for 176 MT to be smuggled to the international community.
The DG ANF said that there were approximately four million drug addicts in the country, out of which 0.5 million were heroin addicts. He said the government of Pakistan had approved a master plan for controlling drug abuse with a total outlay of Rs 2.832 billion out of which Rs 1.072 billion had been allocated for the drug demand reduction component alone.
He also told the premier that the government had approved two Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres at a cost of Rs 22.52 million each – at Islamabad and Quetta – for the treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug addicts.
The prime minister was told that ANF, with the help of the private sector, was going to launch a “Friends for Life” club for creating awareness against drug abuse and the treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration of drug addicts into society.
The prime minister was requested to become its first chief patron and he accepted. online