Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) of Pakistan has been doing an excellent job in taking down drug businesses in this country. Specially, in the northern areas of Pakistan which are known for their ease of access to illegal drugs. This drive has somewhat hampered the illegal drug trafficking in these areas. A clear message has been sent to unauthorized dealers and sellers of drugs to stop this for once and all. But these people have been in the business for too long now and that too without any check and restraint. They have found another way to play under the table to deceive the authorities and carry on with their illegal businesses. After ANF has made the drug trafficking quite difficult, Whatsapp helps these businesses to stay alive and running.
Muhammad Yamin, a resident of Khyber Agency who was a former drug dealer shared his concerns over the crackdown:
We could sell drugs freely in the past. But the government’s actions have instilled fear in the people. There are very strict punishments for buying and selling drugs
Drug abuse in Pakistan has nothing but worsened over the years. Millions of people get addicted every year and lose their lives to this epidemic. The worst part is that in some regions, Illegal drug trafficking operates openly from our utility stores and nearby shops. It was also made convenient due to regional security dynamics in Pakistan. Drugs are trafficked from our neighbor countries through many entrance points including Afghanistan and Iran. In 1991 to curb this illegal substance trade, an Anti Narcotics Force was established and merged with Pakistan Narcotics Board (PAB) in 1995.
ANF is responsible for performing Counter Narcotic activities in Pakistan and keeping them at par with the international standards. They perform their duties by enforcing local laws regarding drug trafficking. In addition to this they also draw their strengths from UN conventions against illicit trafficking of narcotics and Memorandums of Understanding (MoU). ANF has contributed a lot towards the eradication of substance abuse in Pakistan since its formation. These contributions include awareness programs, Rehabilitation Centers, and preventive education.
Crackdown of illegal drug businesses has made it harder for people to sell and purchase drugs publicly and has also instilled a sense of fear in them. However, there are some loop holes that need to be filled as soon as possible. Drug traffickers have adopted social media as their way of communication to escape surveillance. Even though, according to some officials of the Anti Narcotics Force, their drive has been successful overall, there are still some gaps to be filled to entirely suffocate this practice.
Itehad Afridi who is also a member of this Anti Narcotics Force said that:
We have been asked to close down the shops that sell illegal drugs. So far we have shut down 500 of them. Selling and purchasing drugs are punishable crimes. Anyone found with drugs can be fined up to 300,000 Rupees (3,000 euros). We are also authorized to raze the shops and even the markets.
In the UNODC drug report of Pakistan, it is revealed that drug abuse is more common in people aged from 25 to 39 and of 6.5 million illicit drug users, about 4.25 million are still drug dependent. These numbers are from a 2013 report. It is 2016 now and these numbers surely haven’t decreased. To get a hold of a situation like this, it is important to identify the conditions conducive of its use. In Pakistan, poverty, lack of awareness and no control over this situation could be some of the various reasons behind drug abuse.
The fact that these drugs are openly trafficked and sold without prescriptions brings the time for us to reflect on change. To counter act these activities ANF’s Youth Drive that creates awareness and lead them to the right path is exactly what we need. But again people need to realize that these campaigns and drives work for our own good and joining hands with them is the best possible way to get rid of this disease.
This article originally appeared on Deutsche Welle.