- Putting a whole generation at risk
It is rare for Prime Minister Imran Khan to take note of any social problem other than corruption. After spending half his tenure, Mr Khan suddenly realised on Monday that there are seven million drug addicts in the country and there is a need to devise a strategy to check drug abuse among youth.
However he again unnecessarily bracketed the issue with corruption. “Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) alone cannot curb use of narcotics and corruption, therefore the whole nation and the government will have to make collective efforts to fight the menace.”
The fixation with corruption has stood in the way of Mr Khan’s realizing the magnitude of some of the most important issues the country faces like over-population, poverty and extremism, to name just a few.
One welcomes nevertheless the resolve he has displayed to formulate a policy and also to implement it.
The incidence of drug addiction is rising at an alarming rate in Pakistan Despite the gravity of the situation, however, the government has no fresh data on drug users in the country as the last national level survey— Drug Use in Pakistan– was carried out by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics in 2012 in collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
A recent study notes a rapid increase in drug addiction among students of academic institutions. The results unveil that students consume drugs in the universities without much restriction and risk as the academic institutions, which face an unprecedented funding crunch, have not taken serious steps to address the issue on their premises.
The way the government has politicized institutions would remain a major hurdle in controlling the spread of narcotics. PML(N Punjab President Rana Sanaullah was hauled up by the ANF on charges of heroin trading, kept behind bars for six months without substantiating the charge, and only then enlarged on bailed.
This has sullied the ANF’s reputation. Mr Khan has promised to devise a strategy soon to check drug abuse among youth. He has also promised to run an anti-drug campaign across the country.
There can be no two opinions about the need to save our next generations from drug abuse. The PTI government will however have to prove that it has the required competence to perform the job.