TODAY, on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, it would be worth our while to remember that the world as a whole is in the clutches of two kinds of terrorism: one through arms and explosives, and the other through drugs. In case of the former, arms mean that victims meet horrible deaths. In case of the latter, drug addicts first lose their senses, then suffer social and economic collapse and finally, over the years, slowly and painfully meet a miserable end.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2012, in 2011 the estimated annual global production of the cannabis herb was 66,100 tonnes, 9,900 tonnes of hashish were produced, while the production of opium stood at 7,853 tonnes, heroin at 537 tonnes, and cocaine at 1,135 tonnes. The UNODC World Drug Report 2013 told us that of the world’s 4,833 million-strong population aged between 15 and 64, 352 million (7pc) used one drug or the other. These shocking figures on the production and use of drugs warrant urgent attention in every country.

Drugs and drug abuse affect the entire socio-economic fibre of society, ruining individuals, disintegrating families, and disrupting communities. Drug addicts seldom offer a stable family life and can rarely fulfil the domestic, economic, social and psychological requirements of their children in particular. Robbery, street crime and violence are largely connected with drug addicts. Addicted parents often fall into debt, steal or lose their jobs, resulting in their children running away from home and living on the streets — thus increasing the probability of them becoming addicts in turn.

Further, drug abuse has serious implications for the economy of a society, which must pay damages for drug abuse in the shape of decreased productivity, the cost of medical treatment, robbed or destroyed properties, and the cost of law enforcement. Drugs can cause expensive illnesses. And, on top of it all, injecting drug users first become victims of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis-C themselves and then spread these diseases to others who may not be drug users at all.

The figures on the production and use of drugs warrant attention.
According to the UNODC Report on Drug Use in Pakistan-2013, 7.9 million people aged between 15 and 64 use drugs in this country. If drug users outside this band are added, the number may touch 9 million (4.5pc of the total population). Taking cognisance, the then Ministry of Narcotics Control (now division) drafted the National Anti-Narcotics Policy, 2010, which was first approved by the prime minister and then the cabinet. This lays down the following three policy objectives (or strategies) to achieve a drug-free Pakistan by 2030.

First, there is drug supply reduction by eliminating poppy cultivation to maintain Pakistan’s poppy-free status, in addition to preventing trafficking and the production of narcotic/psychotropic substances while strengthening law enforcement agencies and streamlining their activities.

Then, there is drug demand reduction by enhancing demand-prevention efforts through education, community mobilisation campaigns and projects, and developing effective and accessible drug treatment and rehabilitation systems.

Lastly, there is the objective of international cooperation, to be achieved by promoting and actively participating in bilateral, regional and international efforts to combat drugs.

All federal and provincial drug-related law enforcement agencies, and the relevant ministries and departments, are partner to this policy and are responsible for implementing its provisions through dedicated efforts. However, being the premier drugs’ related law enforcement agency of the federal government, and also having ownership of the policy, the Narcotics Control Division (NCD) and the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) are most responsible for steering functioning relating to combating drug abuse. The ANF, being the executing agency of the NCD, is usually ranked first, second or third in the world in seizures of hashish, opium and heroin.

In 2013, the ANF seized 5,613kg of heroin, 13,290kg of opium and 1,05,260kg of hashish. Over 35,000kg of these three types of narco-substances were intercepted during the first five months of 2014. This amounts to almost 40pc of the total seizures made by around two dozen drugs-related law enforcement agencies across provincial and federal police departments in Pakistan. The ANF has also arranged some 1,500 awareness-raising activities over the past four years.

The ‘Drug Free City Lahore’ project is working under the umbrella of the ANF and has organised over 3,000 community mobilisation activities in Lahore over the last three and a half years. In addition, the ANF has treated some 12,000 drug addicts in three Model Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation Centres established and run under its supervision in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore.

Nevertheless, the menace can only be defeated in Pakistan if every citizen participates in this “war against drugs” with zeal. Much more remains to be done if Pakistan is to achieve a drugs-free status.