Islamabad - The drug mafia has gained a stronghold in Islamabad’s educational institutions despite a crackdown by the local police.

Scores of students of various universities and colleges in Islamabad have reportedly fallen prey to drug addiction while the police and the authorities seem helpless in trying to curb the dangerous habit. The students are routinely purchasing contrabands as the drug dealers are just a phone call away. The network of drug dealers is so strong and organized that their the service is available 24 hours, according to the sources in the local police.

As per CADD, around 250,000 students are enrolled in the capital’s educational institutions. Interestingly, all these institutions have been declared as no-smoking zones.

The increasing trend of drug consumption in the institutes has posed a serious threat to the lives of students. According to police sources, majority of the drug addict students in Islamabad belong to upper-middle and upper class, and have no issue of affordability. Several students are also becoming part of the criminal gangs involved in supplying drugs in the premises of various institutions. Tablets of ecstasy, hashish, charas, heroin, marijuana and other imported high-end drugs are in high demand.

In its drive against drugs on campus, Islamabad police often arrests students and peddlers involved in the sale of contraband. The local police arrested 56 drug-peddlers and registered over 50 FIRs at different police stations from January 1, 2018 to October 27, 2018 but substance abuse continues to rise.

The areas near to Urdu University, International Islamic University Islamabad, Katchi Abadi in sector I-11/4, Swan Camp, Quaid-e-Azam University, Comsats University, Cricket Ground in sector F-6, Islamabad Zoo, Margalla Road F-6/2, F-7/2 School, sector E-11/4, sector G-9/2, Sarai Kharbooza, Noor Pur Shahan, IRIS Academy, Zia Masjid stop, sector I-8, sector G-7/2, sector G-7/4, G-7 markaz, Doray village, sector F-10/4, sector E-11/2, Bari Imam Pul, Azeem Town, Ripah University in the limits of Noon police station, Uthal and University Chowk in the limits of Secretariat police station have emerged as the prime target areas of the drug-peddlers, according to the data available with this scribe.

The police collectively recovered over 20Kg charas, 4kg heroin, 739 grams of ice, 1050 grams of cocaine and 6 bottles of liquor from the accused. The cases were registered under section 9-C, 9-B, and 9-A of the PPC and the police have submitted challan of these cases in the relevant courts of law. However, the drug business is booming and the students are at the mercy of drug-peddlers.

The drug addiction has been treated as a non-issue but the availability of drugs on campuses has become a problem that now requires immediate attention from the authorities concerned. Parents and concerned elements have also raised hue and cry about the situation getting out of hand.

In October 2016, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control had declared a war against drugs across Pakistan while expressing concern over reports of increased drug use by students of upper-middle-income background.

In February 2017, the Sadar Zone police in Islamabad had, arrested 17 drug peddlers and recovered 7.54 kilograms of hashish and 68 bottles of liquor from them.

The Islamabad High Court had, last year, sought a report from the interior ministry and a top-level police official of Islamabad regarding the sale of narcotics in the capital. The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) is also playing an active role against the gangs involved in supplying drugs to students of different universities and educational institutions. The ANF Intelligence has deployed special surveillance teams and informers to monitor activities of the gangs operating in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

However, the drug mafia continues its activities in and around the educational institutions, putting the nation in an alarming situation. Usage of drug in the educational institutions is increasing alarmingly and the problem has transformed in recent years into a major threat to the health of the students as well.

Last year, the National Assembly had received two bills mandating drug tests for school and college students in the capital. Titled as the Compulsory Drug Test of Students Act 2018, the bill was moved by PML-N MNA Asiya Naz Tanoli to deal with the issue. The Prevention of Drugs in Educational Institutions Act, 2018 tabled by PPP MNA Shahida Rehmani was more thorough. The bill was meant to be enforced in both public and private universities as well as high schools in the Islamabad Capital Territory and areas under the administrative control of the federal government. After expiry of the previous national assembly, there has been no progress on the issue.

On the other hand, Deputy Commissioner Islamabad has imposed section 144 and ordered that no person shall sell sheesha for smoking in the territorial limits of Islamabad district. This order shall remain in force for a period of two months. The decision was taken in the wake of reports that certain persons were involved in selling sheesha smoking in various hotels, restaurants and cafes of the capital.