ISLAMABAD   -   Minister of State for Narcotics Control Thursday told the Senate Committee that the PTI government would make drug tests mandatory for students and the schools’ staff at least in the capital.

Giving a briefing to the Senate Standing Committee on Narcotics Control on the reports of supply of different drugs in campuses, he said schools’ management too would be directed to take responsibility of students that have fallen prey to drugs on campus.  “The whole house must be sensitized on this issue.” He told the meeting that the government was planning to introduce legislation seeking strict punishments for the possession and distribution of crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or ice.

Afridi further asserted that the government would not spare any person involved in the drugs business and providing it to the youth even if they were members of the parliament. He indirectly criticized PML-N MNA Rana Sanaullah Khan who is facing a drug case.  He further said that the media attention given to Sanaullah’s arrest was unnecessary at a time when Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had detained over 2,000 suspects for their alleged involvement in narcotics business.

The state minister told the committee that was chaired by Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen that the ministry had started a project—Ama’an—that has collected data of drug dealers and money launderers from over 250 international law enforcement agencies. Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control Amjad Javed Saleemi also briefed the meeting about Ama’an — an artificial intelligence data base of criminals related to narcotics trade and money laundering worldwide. 

He said that a record was being maintained of criminal entities involved in the narcotics trade. He added that the system helps track drug peddlers and their facilitators. The committee was informed that the data in this solution updates in less than 10 minutes.

It also includes important features such as facial recognition and smart search.  It was asserted that this solution will make ANF one of the most dynamic forces in the region as data would be shared both regionally and internationally. “The database is being constantly expanded and updated to offer most accurate results,” the secretary said.

Afridi in his remarks said that the development of database was as great achievement as Pakistan had conducted nuclear tests 1990s’ to make the country’s defense invincible.  That, he said, was “military deterrence and this is ‘social’ deterrence and will put all of Pakistan’s enemies on back foot.”

The minister claimed that his team was responsible to the state and therefore did not toe any party line. “We must support this work so that the future of our generations is secured.” He added that despite lack of resources, ANF performed commendably.  He informed the meeting that despite the sensitivity of the nature of work performed by ANF, its number of deployed personnel was just 2900 including only six in Giilgit Baltistan, 506 in Balochistan and 543 in Punjab.  “This is a sorry state of affairs.” Afridi informed the committee that ANF had launched rehabilitation centres in all major cities to fight against the menace of drugs and all these centres were being funded through local resources.