LAHORE - The Punjab government has decided to start health profiling of teachers and students in a bid to curb the rising trend of narcotics abuse in educational institutes, officials said on Wednesday.

The decision to conduct drug screening of students and faculty members in colleges and universities was taken at a meeting presided over by Punjab Chief Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar at the Civil Secretariat on Wednesday.

In the light of Lahore High Court’s directions, detailed deliberations were made during the meeting to stop drug abuse, especially in education institutes and jails. The Chief Secretary directed the authorities that concrete steps should be taken to cut the supply of narcotics and to ensure rehabilitation of addicts besides controlling the menace. He ordered the authorities to ensure implementation of the action plan prepared for controlling the drug abuse in the province.

He said that there is need to enhance public awareness about harms of drug abuse. “Ulema and civil society can play a vital role in government’s efforts to free the society from this menace,” the Chief Secretary said. He also issued instructions to the government departments regarding the collection accurate data about the drug addicts in the province.

Last month, the federal government had also announced that drug screening of students and teachers would be carried out to control the rising trend of drug abuse in educational institutions across the country.

Federal Minister for Narcotics Control and Safron Shehryar Khan Afridi claimed the government was consulting private and public-sector educational institutions to ensure drug screening of students, faculty members, and staff.

A report, compiled by a non-governmental organisation and shared with different parliamentary committees about three years ago, had claimed that 44 to 53pc students of the main private schools in the federal capital were addicted to various kinds of drugs. But, the then minister for Capital Administration and Development Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and some education bodies had straightforwardly rejected the reports.

The private schools had also rejected the study report terming it as “dubious” stating that the methodology and the data was not shared with anyone.

Also, these reports of an alarming increase in the trend of drug abuse in educational institutions had compelled the then chief justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, to take up the issue for hearing. Heading a three-member bench of the apex court, the ex-CJP had sought reports from the provincial governments in December last year.

Separately, on the directions of the Punjab Chief Minister the Chief Secretary chaired a meeting regarding delay in finalization of pension cases. The meeting discussed reasons for the delay and various suggestions were given to improve the process.

The Chief Secretary ordered early disposal of pending pension cases besides rapid completion of process for payment of financial assistance in case of death of a government servant. He said that no delay in issuance of pension would be allowed as provision of right to a retired government official is responsibility of departments. The meeting was briefed that 833 pension cases were pending in the province until October 31. Additional Chief Secretary and administrative secretaries of all departments were also present on this occasion besides other officers.