The recent statement of Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi, that around 45 to 75 percent of students in Islamabad are addicted to drugs, is both extremely shocking and alarming. However once given even a cursory view the claim begins to fall apart and reveal itself as what it truly is – an irresponsible and scaremongering statement by a minister, thrown away without much foresight.

The question that strikes one almost immediately is; what study or survey is the minster basing his claim on? Key officials of the education sector and rehabilitation centres have expressed astonishment over the figures quoted, and have strongly resisted the characterisation of the vast majority of the capital’s student’s as “drug addicts”. Unsurprisingly, the minister has not provided any substantiation for this claim, and given the extensive discussions had by this paper with various professionals in this field, we shouldn’t expect any substantiation either – no such study exists.

Furthermore, actual data of patients collected from rehabilitation centres suggests that addicts come from all manner of professions and backgrounds – busting the popular zeitgeist that rich kids in private schools and universities are responsible for a drug epidemic that is sweeping the country. Undeniably, the availability of cheap synthetic drugs has increased with time, and many students may be using them as well, but it inaccurate to label them as the propagators of this phenomenon.

It is irresponsible too. One would have expected a Minister of State to be more circumspect; to only make claims proven by data and not ones that he simply thinks might be correct. Facts do not work like that.

Such statements further a long-standing conservative narrative – that the youth is being corrupted – without making any real effort to identify the real affectees of drug abuse and addiction, or to solve the real problems that arise from the proliferation of narcotics.