Pakistan’s Interior Minister Shehryar Afridi raised the issue Tuesday, but even amid doubts on his facts, there is growing concern over the problem.
New Delhi: The Pakistani Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Khan Afridi, Tuesday stated that about 75 per cent of women students in capital Islamabad and almost 45 per cent of male students are abusers of the highly addictive drug methamphetamine, commonly known as ‘crystal meth’ or ‘ice.’
Speaking at a child rights training programme in the city, Afridi announced that the government is coming up with a strategy to crack down on the problem.
Afridi’s comments set off alarm bells across the country, with many, including the former Islamabad inspector general Tahir Alam Khan, raising doubts about the statistics he quoted in his address.
“If there had been such drug consumption, it would eventually lead to student brawls, which are not being seen,” Khan told Geo News. “Even children belonging to the elite class can’t afford to pay Rs 2,000 daily for drugs,” he added. “The claims simply lack evidence.”
Even though the interior minister’s claims don’t have factual backing, there is a growing concern in Pakistan over the increasing drug addiction among students. In the past few years, the country has seen a rapidly increasing number of deaths due to meth abuse in cities such as Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad and Lahore.
‘The elite drug’
According to an investigation conducted by Samaa News in November, crystal meth has become common among college students in the campuses of Peshawar because of its ability to keep a person awake for 24-48 hours. Many students have been abusing the drug in order to get through examinations, the report said.
Samaa News, however, quoted psychiatrist Dr Khalid Mufti as saying that “it has eventually become a party drug”.
Dr Khalid also told the channel that “in the beginning, it was only distributed amongst the elites because it cost around Rs 800-900 per gram”. Now, however, a gram of meth ranges from Rs 500 to 800 per gram and is mixed with other cheaper chemicals to increase the supply.
A special story published by Geo TV titled Ice Age states that meth has been “slowly taking over the urban elite of the country”.
The trouble with the law
According to Geo TV, Peshawar Police arrested 37 men within six months this year for dealing in crystal meth but “the arrested walked free after spending only two days in jail”.
According to Geo TV, an officer needs to find 100 gm on a seller to convict him under Pakistani laws, and so meth dealers don’t usually carry more than 50 gm.
There have been drug busts in Karachi where hundreds of kilograms of crystal meth have been seized from make shifts labs in apartments. But there has been very little progress in cracking down on the practice.