ISLAMABAD 27th June: “I once studied at some of Pakistan’s best institutions,” reminisced Shahid* as he exhaled a puff of smoke underneath Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit bridge. “All it took was one cigarette and now I sit here in garbage, wasting my education,” the once Lahore resident recalled with regret and sorrow.
Around 23 years old, Shahid was on a path full of hope and promise. After graduating from the Don Bosco High School, he got himself admitted at Dyal Singh College. “I was smart and I was in love, but then I was hit with some domestic issues and other problems. And fell into drugs,” he said.
As his drug use grew more and intensified, so did the tensions and fights with his family. After a heated argument with his brother four years earlier, Shahid left home for good and moved to Peshawar. “Only my mother visited me since I left,” he said. “No one else.”
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the United Nations and Pakistan’s Narcotics Control Division and Bureau of Statistics, Shahid is one of the estimated 7.6 million drug abusers of Pakistan who find themselves stuck in their deep addiction. A huge number of them – 78 per cent to be exact – are men, with more joining in for the sake of having drugs.
According to the report,drug is the highest in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where according to statistics 11 per cent of the total population is addicted to harmful drugs. Even though Pakistan has managed to reduce the use of its territory for transshipment of narcotics, its proximity to the global drug production and trafficking network means Pakistanis, particularly in K-P, continue to be vulnerable to drug abuse.
According to the World Drug Report 2019 released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Wednesday, large quantities of cannabis and opioids continue to be seized from the country. After Spain, Pakistan reported the largest quantities of cannabis resin seized in 2017, the report stated. That same year, the country also reported the largest amounts of heroin and morphine seized after Afghanistan and Iran.