By Shaikh Abdul Rasheed
A large number of people take drugs so as to bring about a soothing change in their lives. The youth thinks these drugs can give them relaxation and relief from boredom and anxiety. However, application of harmful drugs instigates adverse impacts on its users. Despite that, the trend of drugs abusing is on the rise among the youth worldwide-who use it carelessly and mostly unknowingly. It is imperative to mention that the only beneficiaries of the drugs are those who are heavily involved in illicit trade and smuggling, thus earning substantial money.
Drug trade and terrorism are totally different forms of crimes. However, the two exist in combination, somewhat like a horse and carriage. Drug trade is not only a criminal, health and safety issue, it’s also a major national security issue because it is a big source of funding for terrorists. The Afghan Taliban and the TTP are working in complicit to earn money from the burgeoning drug trade so as to continue their nefarious designs in the region.
The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) reports that Afghanistan produces an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s supply of illicit opium and more than 43 per cent of drug is smuggled from Afghanistan via Pakistan to destination markets in Europe, Asia and to some extent, Africa and North America. In 2014, the global potential opium production reached 7,554 tons, the second highest level since the 1930s, mainly due to its increasing cultivation in Afghanistan, the main growing country.
Initially, after emerging as a non-state force, the Taliban vehemently opposed the use of drugs on the basis of Islamic rules, thus became deadly enemies of the drug producers and traders by punishing those in their ranks who violated this rule. But later on, when all of its main sources of raising funds for their operations, training of their members and so-called humanitarian relief such as assistance to the families of suicide bombers or other victims of the cause or struggle were ceased, the Taliban has resorted to supporting the production and smuggling of opium.
The UNODC reported that in 2013, of the 27 million problem drug users aged 15 to 64 years, almost half of them were people who injected drugs (PWID) worldwide. An estimated 1.65 million of people who inject drugs were living with HIV. Approximately 187,100 drug-related deaths occurred in 2013. The drug injecting women are more vulnerable to the HIV infection than the men and the prevalence of HIV can be higher among such women compared to men. The report showed that many risk factors, including the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C and the incidences of drug overdoses, caused 15 times higher death rate among PWID than in the rest of the population. Hence, followed by huge HIV cases, with the course of time, the number of PWID is on the rise in Pakistan.
Afghanistan, with 90 percent of the world’s opium production, which is used in making highly addictive heroin, stands the largest opium producer in the world. The Asian continent is the largest market for opium; the US is the largest consumer of opium/heroin and the African continent is a transit hub for Afghan heroin bound for Europe and other regions. Reportedly, the huge amount of opium is supplied to the US, making availability of more and cheaper heroin in it. As a result, the US has a large number of heroin related deaths. While the number of heroin users is rapidly increasing in Pakistan where around 4.25 million people are drug dependent with a substantial proportion of population aged 15 to 64.
Pakistan has succeeded in making very impressive contributions against cultivation of poppy in its territory and was acknowledged as a poppy-free state for the year 2011 and retained the same status for 2012, 2013 and 2014. However, the matter of concern is that the consumption and trafficking of drugs such as opium, heroin, cocaine and marijuana are yet on the pinnacle in the country. Today we a large force of drugs addicted youth and most of the addicts are found in Afghanistan, bordering areas of Balochistan and Khyber PakhtunKhuwa (KP).
The drugs abusing affects economic and social conditions of families horribly. Most of the drugs-abusers are from underprivileged and poverty-stricken families. The drugs-users especially heroin-addicts buy drugs to satisfy their needs, selling out all paraphernalia of their houses and golden knick-knacks of their women. In our society, the addicts have been seen peddling their children particularly daughters for purchasing habit-satisfying drugs.
In reality, the cultivation and trade of opium, with no other income generating alternatives, is considered to be the back bone of an outsized proportion of economy of Afghanistan, which has attracted numerous people to cultivate poppy. As the existing state of affairs shows that illegal drugs smuggling poses a serious threat to the whole world, therefore, the international community has to take constructive measures to purge the world of illicit and deadly drugs after wiping out terrorism, which is a major cause of production and trafficking of the narcotics, from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The writer is an academic, and can be reached on Twitter @ARShykh