Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Controlling Narcotics In Pakistan.

Controlling Narcotics in Pakistan.
By Dr Meher Zaidi.

Ministry of Narcotics control, government of Pakistan writes in its advertised section in newspaper today that it has devised a National Anti- Narcotics Policy and the 5 year drug Control Master Plan will be implemented. Mr Javed Iqbal  emphasizes that all this will be done with international and local stakeholder support.organisations like UNODC,UNAIDS,SAARC will be actively approached and a regional cooperation with Afghanistan, Iran will be initiated for success.
The strategy is three pronged:
1.Supply reduction through invigorated and strengthened law enforcement.
2.Demand reduction through accelerated initiatives.
3.International Co-operation.
Let us first discuss the supply reduction scenario.
As the conventions in UN drug control says that there is to be increased seizures of drugs components and raw materials from the origins countries and their supply routes.http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-trafficking/index.html  This is where the international organisations come into play.Pakistan has a very limited and ineffective Anti- narcotics Support Force. This new initiative with the approval of  the prime minister boasts of new national anti-narcotics policy,5 year master plan with road map, inter agency task force, make Lahore drug free, strengthening law enforcement  & expeditious judicial proceedings and stern action against drug trafficker and smugglers among other  initiatives.
It seems that the write up due to limitation of space does not elaborate on this major aspect of drug control in Pakistan.
There is apparently a criminal lack of justice in drugs control in Pakistan. No drugs supplier at any level, of any magnitude is ever caught in Pakistan.The aspect of catching big fish and making an example out of them is very important for a country like Pakistan.As seen in the failed drug war in Columbia, despite increased force to control this trade, alternative economic opportunities are most important. There has been activity of distribution of seeds for sustainable crops in Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa with supply of hydel projects but these initiatives for lucrative crops and economic advantageous activity need to be expanded.http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/01/02/the-truth-about-plan-colombia.html
I may not say this but I must that  the narcotics control operates at the level of just slapping this criminal charge on a very small person when other charges cannot be put to implicate a person in a criminal case. So a guy can be slapped with possessing 1kg heroin just to keep him in lockup for any other reason. Also to show some activity by the local police station. Never a big fish in narcotics trade has been caught and his case brought on trial. This issue of non-seriousness to tackle the actual menace of drugs in Pakistani society has to be finished.
All the input routes are freely operated by trucks and the goods are smuggled into major cities like Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi.Very seldom are these drugs confiscated.There is very dire need of strengthening this aspect of narcotics control.Various aspects of precursor narcotics control by the Narcotics Control Force like registrations, issuance of no objection certificates etc are important but more intelligence and surveillance of shipments and logistics is needed for effective confiscation. More equipment and training for vigilance is required. 
The ordinary police has to be strengthened and made aware of drug confiscation and some perks & incentives have to be given to them. The false accusations procedures have to be strictly discouraged and abandoned in order to bring the real culprits to justice.
Demand reduction through accelerated initiatives is a very large and difficult subject. It has to be addressed through multiple thrusts. First and foremost is education. Clearly the increase in school enrollment and reduction in drop out rate is among the most effective means of reducing this demand. awareness about the damaging effects of drugs, breaking the habit , reduction of peer pressure, religious thrust and enticement all lead to reduction in demand. Intense media campaigns is a very effective tool in addition to campaigns by pop stars.
In Pakistan direct criminal activity is linked to selling of drugs at street level. The role of police in catching the drug peddler at street level is very important which is totally being ignored due to rampant corruption at this level. Most fights against criminal gangs by the police are now given a political flavor due to which larger actions against criminal gangs are not undertaken or postponed.This lethargy or inability to tackle drug control has to be removed and the ANF has to be strengthened for its role at street level also.The upgrading and strengthening of the Anti-narcotics Force is also an important initiative.Without this effective force this war cannot be won.

A key initiative given is a national survey on the extent of drug abuse and addiction should be the first priority to get a real picture. This will define the population to be targeted both in prevention and treatment. It will also give us the socio-economic makeup in addition to the causes of falling into drug addiction.

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