The Sindh government and the Federal Ministry of Narcotics have joined hands to eradicate drugs from society, particularly from educational institutions, and block the different routes from where drugs are smuggled to Karachi by evolving a joint mechanism and deployment of concerned forces.
The chief minister approved a task force comprising the CM himself and federal minister for interior to monitor the situation once in a month and constituted committees with representation from Anti-Narcotics Force, Sindh Police and Excise Police to conduct intelligence-based crackdown on drug smugglers and paddlers.
These decisions were made in a meeting held at the CM’s House which was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah with his team and the Federal Minister for Narcotics Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and his team. Those who attended the meeting include ANF Commander Brigadier Viqar Haider, Major Mohammad Ali and Abdul Salam Khetran. The CM was assisted by his Education Minister Syed Sardar Shah, Minister Excise & Narcotic Mukesh Chawla, Minister Social Welfare Sajid Jokhio, Adviser on Law Murtaza Wahab, Sindh IG Mushtaq Maher, Karachi Addl IG Ghulam Nabi Memon, Prison IG Kazir Nazir, excise secretary and others.
The chief minister said that use of narcotics was emerging at an alarming pace in society. “Drugs proliferation in Pakistan increased after the Afghan war,” he said, and quoting a survey said that around 6.8 million drug users were estimated in Pakistan. “The slum areas serve as breeding grounds for drug abuse and trafficking,” Shah said and added that the slums of Lyari and Sohrab Goth “are the main hub of narcotics activity in Karachi”.
Karachi Additional IG Ghulam Nabi Memon giving a detailed briefing pointed out that the menace had now penetrated the educational system.
He said that both men and women were using various narcotics in colleges and universities. According to the Addl IG, there is a strong nexus between narcotics and crime. Most of the street criminals are addicts. The drugs used by addicts include hashish, cannabis, heroin, cocaine, crack, amphetamines, crystal/ICE, ecstasy/barbiturates/benzodiazepines.
The meeting was told that the narcotics were neither cultivated nor manufactured in Sindh. Narcotics reach Karachi through four different routes. They are from Balochistan through Qambar, Larkana, Dadu, and Jamshoro to Karachi. Another route is from Balochistan through Quetta, Sorab, Khuzdar, Wadh, Uthal, Gadani, Hub and then to Karachi. The third route is from Punjab through Kashmore and reaches Karachi via Shikarpur, Larkana, Dadu and Jamshoro. The fourth route is from Punjab through Sadiqaba and reaches Karachi via Pano Aqil, Sukkur, Khairpur, Hyderabad and Thatta.
The chief minister said that the Sindh Assembly had passed Control of Narcotics Substance (Sindh Amendment) Bill-2021. He added that the new amendment bill had included use of synthetic drugs as a crime.
“It defines narcotics drugs in two categories, the Category-I includes coca leaf, cannabis, and poppy straw, while in Category-II are cocaine, heroin and all manufactured drugs or any other such contraband substances. The Additional IG told the meeting that 1,714 narcotics peddlers had been identified, of whom 396 were in jail, 440 on bail and 878 at large. Prison IG Qazi Nair told the meeting that 22,970 prisoners, including 346 drug users and 22,624 drug traffickers, had been confined in different prisons of the province. “Out of 346 drug users two are convicted while and out of 22,624 drug traffickers 727 are convicted,” it was disclosed.
According to the Prison IG, the drug user prisoners are kept in separate wards and they are regularly visited by specialists of the Health Department as well as Prison Medical Officers and provided with proper medication. Screening of drug users/addicts is carried out regularly and necessary prediction, treatment therapy is provided to them inside the prison. Rehabilitated measures/efforts are taken by the Prison Department for reformation of drug users/addicts so that they could get rid from using narcotics and lead normal life after release from the prison. Separate wards are established inside the prison for keeping the drug users/addicts separate from the other prison. Strict search/vigilance is carried out to prohibit entry of narcotics inside the prisons and the articles brought by the prisoners and their visitors are thoroughly checked. The prisoners are also physically searched after returning from court production, interview and at the time of admission.
The meeting was told that the provincial government had installed baggage screening machines at Central Prison Karachi, Central Prison Hyderabad and Central Prison Sukkur.
The chief minister said that his government had established two rehabilitation centers: at Haryana Colony Orangi and Landhi. He added that he allocated four more buildings for drug rehabilitation centres: Sports and Youth Affairs Development Centre Malir, Pak Colony, 100-bed hospital in New Karachi and KMC Leprosy Hospital Manghopir. “We are committed to purging our educational institutions, government and private, of drugs but we can clean the city if the ANF joins our hands,” he said. At this, Federal Minister for Narcotics Shahzain Bugti assured the chief minister that his ANF was at the disposal of the provincial government, and “we would work together to purge society from this menace and mafia”.
The chief minister and federal minister for narcotics constituted the task force under their joint control which would meet once in a month, and it would be notified. The CM also formed a joint committee comprising officials of Excise & Narcotic Department, Sindh Police and ANF for conducting intelligence-based operations in the province in general and in the city in particular. The committee would be notified by the Sindh government. The meeting decided that the borders would be sealed and a major operation against drug mafia would be carried out by the Sindh Police, Excise & Narcotics Police and ANF.