ISLAMABAD-Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Muhammad Azam Khan Swati Wednesday clarified before the Senate panel that the cabinet had allowed only two departments to cultivate hemp to be used for industrial and medical purposes.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Narcotics Control that met under the chair of Senator Sardar Shafiq Tareen, the minister said that a pilot project for cultivation of hemp would be launched soon and only two government departments have been allowed to carry out the initiative. He said that the imported seed of hemp would be cultivated under specific conditions and atmosphere. In the first week of September, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government had approved the industrial production of hemp claiming that it could generate foreign exchange of up to $1 billion in the next three years.

The minister told the committee that plants of industrial hemp and cannabis were different in variety from each other. Separately, Director General Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Major General Muhammad Arif Malik told the committee that the Ministry of Narcotic Control had a policy to decrease supply and demand of narcotics in the country. 

He pointed out that ANF was facing shortage of resources and manpower to curb the menace of narcotics in the country. He also said that the production and supply of synthetic narcotics could be controlled effectively in the country with the help of manpower.  

The committee was informed that only 2,172 staff was employed in the ANF against sanctioned posts of 3,148. It was also informed that ANF was facing shortage of funds to make new recruitments. The lawmakers were informed that no new recruitment has been made in ANF during last seven years and the country has approximately witnessed an increase of 70 million population during the same period. 

Committee Chairman remarked that the use of narcotics in the country had increased with the passage of time and educational institutions had been also badly affected with this menace. 

He added that that committee had endorsed demand of making as many 10,000 new inductions in ANF but the government only allowed to fill 500 posts. He said that this number was too short to fulfil requirements of the force.