ISLAMABAD - A Senate panel yesterday voiced concerns over rising trend of drugs addiction among students of some government-owned and elite private educational institutions of the capital as well as regular supply of drugs to these schools and colleges.

Senate Standing Committee on Interior that met yesterday under the chairmanship of Senator Rehman Malik declared 'war on drug' after the authorities of the Narcotics Division and Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) informed that it had busted a gang involved in supply of drugs to some state-owned and elite educational institutions, mostly located in the posh areas, of Islamabad

The committee was also informed that Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) was being misused by drug traffickers for smuggling of a chemical precursor called acetic anhydride that is most commonly used as chemical agent in heroin processing.

The Secretary Narcotics Division Ajaz Ali Khan told the committee that ANF had conducted an operation against drug paddlers involved in the selling of drugs in colleges and universities of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. At least six accused of drug trafficking gang were nabbed who were involved in drug supply to various model colleges of the capital besides other private universities and schools.

The ANF authorities also gave a detailed briefing on figure of addicts in schools and measures taken to check drugs sale to the students. The meeting expressed concerns over increase in figures of drug addicts in educational institutions. The meeting was briefed that the exact figure of addicts in schools was not available with the government.

Keeping in view the alarming situation of drug addiction particularly among the students, Rehman Malik declared 'War on Drugs' which was fully endorsed by the members of the committee. The committee decided to launch an awareness campaign against drug addiction with the coordination of other stakeholders including NGOs and media. The committee will also arrange an awareness walk at the Constitution Avenue formally declaring the 'War on Drugs'.

Chairman Committee Senator Rehman Malik said that he was shocked to know that an eight years old child was found drug addicted during a survey. In this backdrop, the committee recommended that the government should take strict measures including introduction of new legislation to check rising trend of drug addiction among the youth.

Senator Chaudhry Tanvir Khan proposed that it should be made mandatory for every public and private school, college and university to have a drug test of every student at least twice a year and the report should be sent to ANF. "The schools, colleges and universities should take strict measures to have a check on drug related activities on the campuses and should be made responsible to report to ANF authorities," said Malik. 

On the issue of smuggling of a chemical for heroin processing, the secretary Narcotics Division said: "The chemical is smuggled from Indian, China, Korea and some other countries by misusing APTTA". He said that over 90 percent heroin was being produced in Afghanistan and around 40 and 42 per cent of this amount was smuggled through Pakistan to reach the global markets.

The committee recommended that APTTA must not assist the drug dealers and the Narcotics Division should be kept on board while planning and implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The committee tasked Senator Mukhtiar Ahmed Dhamrah to coordinate with the provincial authorities in implementing the measures recommended by the committee. The committee recommended that the provincial chief secretaries along with the inspector general of police (IGPs) and home secretaries should attend the next meeting and brief the committee about the provincial programmes as well as planning in combating the menace of drug addiction in youth. 

The committee also directed the secretary Narcotics Division and the secretary Interior Division to brief the committee about the innocent baby taken from Islamabad to Uramchi, China as a carrier of drug.

Dr Maria Sultan DG SASSI also attended the meeting as special invitee besides senior officials of Ministry of Interior, Narcotics Division and ANF.