Sindh, fed govt joint hands to avert drug menace

KARACHI:The provincial and federal governments have joined hands to work together to avert the drug menace, particularly synthetic drugs so that the young generation, the future of the country, could be protected and rehabilitated if affected.

This emerged in a meeting held between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Narcotics Control here at CM House. The meeting was attended by Provincial ministers, Syed Sardar Shah, Ismail Rahu, Mukesh Chawla, Sajid Jokhio, Sharjeel Memon, Advisors - Murtaza Wahab and Aijaz Jakhrani, Parliamentary Secretary Qasim Soomro, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Adl IGs Javed Odho and Munir Shaikh. The federal govt team comprised DG ANF Maj Gen. Aneeq Rehman, Force Commander ANF Brig Waqar, Col Perviaz of MATRC, Joint Director Col Adnan, and others.

The provincial government was acknowledged for taking the lead in conducting a successful operation against drug trafficking and menace. “The menace of synthetic drugs which had penetrated into educational institutions in Sindh has been stopped to a great extent,” the federal minister and DG ANF acknowledge. The chief minister said that the penetration of synthetic drugs into educational institutions particularly in Karachi was a great threat to our children. He added that he constituted a Provincial Task Force on Control of Narcotics under his chairmanship in 2019 for providing policy guidelines.

The CM said that a committee under the D.G Rangers has also been constituted to control Narcotics drugs on provincial Borders, coordinate with all relevant agencies and present monthly progress reports to the Provincial Task Force. “We have another Committee under the IG Police to Control Narcotics/Drugs in all cities and towns of the province.

Presently two Drugs Rehabilitation Centers, one in Karachi and one in Hyderabad are functional under the AF where doctors and psychologists work in collaboration so that after the treatment addicted persons could be resumed normal life, Murad Shah said and added his government was also in the process of identifying and setup special rehabilitation centers for drug addicts in the all divisional headquarters.

Inauguration of MATRC:

Earlier, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Narcotics Control, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti formally inaugurated Benazir Shaheed Model Addicts Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (MATRC), Manghopir. The MATRC is a state-of-the-art facility established by the provincial government with the help of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and collaboration of the Ministry of Narcotics Control, and other national and international partners.

The ceremony was attended by provincial ministers, industrialists, Provincial Ministers, ANF DG, and others. Mr. Shah thanked the federal minister for Narcotics control for his presence and participation in the programme to discuss the current situation of drugs in the province and other related matters. “This is a vital issue that affects the lives and wellbeing of millions of people in our province and country,” the CM said and added that this needed to be addressed jointly by the provincial and federal governments so that the menace could be averted.

The Chief Minister said that the MATRC aimed at providing quality and comprehensive services for the prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration of drug users and their families. “The MATRC has a capacity of 60 beds and offers free treatment and rehabilitation for drug abusers, providing detoxification, food, boarding, counseling, vocational training, and aftercare services to drug addicts,” he said and added the MATRC would also conduct awareness campaigns, research studies, and capacity building programs for drug demand reduction.

According to the CM, the MATRC is also a testament to our commitment and resolve to provide humane and dignified care to drug users and their families. “The MATRC is not only a hospital but also a home for those who seek help and hope for a better future,” he announced.

Murad Shah said that Sindh was one of the most affected regions by the drug problem in Pakistan. According to the National Drug Use Survey 2022, the overall results of the survey revealed that approximately 6 percent of the population - 9 percent of the adult male and 2.9 percent of the adult female population - equivalent to 6.7 million people - had used a substance other than alcohol and tobacco in the preceding years, the CM said and added the most used drugs are cannabis, heroin, opium, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs.

Mr. Shah said that The drug problem in Sindh was also linked to various social, economic, health, and security issues, such as poverty, unemployment, crime, violence, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, tuberculosis, mental disorders, and human trafficking. Mr. Shah said that the Sindh government, with the spirit to enhance the counternarcotic capability/capacity of the Excise dept., was in the phase of establishing a dedicated Narcotics Control Wing. The CM said that we needed to strengthen our prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and harm reduction services for drug users and their families. He also emphasized the need to promote alternative livelihoods and development opportunities for the vulnerable and marginalized groups affected by the drug economy.

Mr. Shah appreciated Federal Minister Shahzain Bugti for his efforts to enhance the coordination and cooperation among the federal and provincial authorities and agencies on drug related matters. Federal Minister for Narcotic Control Shahzain Bugti speaking on the occasion said that there was a dire need to work in close coordination with all the provincial governments so that the drug menace could be averted. Mr. Bugti said that earlier, in some areas people were using drugs but now it has become accessible to the school children and affecting them badly. The federal minister said that Arabic and Chinese languages would be taught to the drug addicts being rehabilitated here at the Center so that they could be provided jobs.

He emphasized the need of working in jails where drugs were being paddled and used. Mr. Bugti thanked the chief minister and his party leadership for supporting him for the cause. Those who spoke on the occasion include STEVTA Chairman Saleem Jalbani and Force Commander ANF Brig Waqar.