When the cops held a peddler while he was transporting narcotics from the tribal areas down to the rest of the country last month, the first person who called the trafficker on his phone during the custody was a female student who was anxiously waiting for the new party drug, ice (also called meth or methamphetamine). Police investigators, while withholding the name of the girl and the trafficker, informed TNS that ice is getting very popular among rich addicts and the youth, both male and female. The ice, available in different forms, is considered to be a must at parties in posh localities of the country.
“The use of methamphetamine in the country is of growing concern for society as well as government agencies. There is an increased use of more potent forms of the drug in particular Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) and Crystal Methamphetamine with local names, Meth, Ice, Crack or Crystal Meth,” Irshad Ullah Khan, a senior officer of the Excise Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who has done research on the use of drugs among locals, especially youth, tells TNS. The Excise Department is currently looking for setting up an authority under a new act that will exclusively go after the gangs involved in smuggling and the sale of drugs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
According to Irshad, ice is 350 per cent more powerful than cocaine and is cheaper. It can be cooked and manufactured at any place, even in a single room in urban areas. These synthetic drugs, which are available all over the country quite easily, can be administered orally, through injection or inhaled via glass pipes.
“Unlike other drugs that make you feel drowsy, ice makes you feel happy and fresh for a longer period. You enjoy music, dance and being with friends whenever you take ice,” a user of the drug, who only wanted to be identified as Ghani, tells TNS. He admitted the drug has a negative impact on the human brain and body but said he has been addicted to it for quite some time now.
“One dose of meth may trigger more than 1200 units of dopamine which is 350 per cent more intense than Cocaine and about 600 per cent more than what the body can do on its own. The effect of one dose of ice is much longer than any other drug as it lasts for up to even 24 hours,” informs Irshad. Dopamine is a natural chemical, which makes a person feel good. More dopamine means more pleasure. Food and sexual pleasure are two of the highest natural pleasures which are rewarded by the brain through the release of Dopamine. Ice pushes the brain to go even further, as meth sneaks into neurons and forces the release of more Dopamine which seriously affects the body and different organs and shortens life by many years.
“Some companies in the developing and under-developed world administer the drug to the labour force in order to increase their industrial production. Besides, synthetic drugs are being used by terrorist organisations like Daesh for suicide missions and bombings,” adds Irshad Ullah Khan.
Presently, the law enforcement agencies’ personnel have little or no experience at all in interdiction of these new emerging synthetic drugs and related chemicals.
“Establishment of an intelligence network in universities and colleges is a major challenge for law enforcement agencies. These institutions are open field for drug peddlers. Even males and females living in hostels in and outside educational institutions are being used for smuggling, which is very alarming,” Irshad Ullah maintains. He expresses his worry that ice made of substandard material is being sold in local markets which is more dangerous for the health of the user.
Ice is mainly said to be a party drug as it is expensive and can’t be consumed often. “A large number of young female dancers not only use ice but also take pills that give them pleasure. I interviewed some of these dancers who said that they feel fresh for over 12 hours and enjoy performing in front of their fans for a longer period,” Qaisar Khan, a Peshawar based journalist, tells TNS.
According to Khan, “a gram of good quality ice costs Rs 10,000 while the substandard stuff is available even against Rs 2000 so easily that one can get it at his or her doorstep anywhere. Good quality pills are sold at up to Rs 7,000. Most of the young males and females use ice to have fun. They feel fresh and don’t feel sleepy or hungry even for 24 hours.”
Not only ice but heroin, hashish, opium and even certain medicines are being used in large quantities by the youth. During an operation, police in Peshawar, the provincial capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, shifted a large number of youth to rehabilitation centres in the city but they refused to accommodate such large numbers of drug users because of lack of funds.
“We have launched a crackdown all over Peshawar for the last many weeks during which a number of peddlers and sellers of ice, heroin, hashish and other drugs have been arrested and cases lodged against them. The drive is still on as all the officers have been directed not to spare anyone selling or transporting ice or other narcotics,” Sajjad Khan, Senior Superintendent of Police Peshawar tells TNS.
The district police officer in Mardan, Dr Mian Saeed Ahmad has started visiting different educational institutions to educate the students about how ice and other drugs ruin the lives of people. The officer visited different public and private sector universities and colleges and interacted with the students. “The purpose of visiting these educational institutions is not only to create awareness among the students about the perils of ice and other drugs but to have an improved monitoring of the hostels of these colleges and universities,” Mian Saeed Ahmad tells TNS.
The Mardan Police during a search operation at the hostels of Abdul Wali Khan University after the death of Mashal Khan recovered various kinds of drugs from the students’ rooms. Similar raids were conducted in hostels of public and private sector colleges and universities in Peshawar to recover drugs.
“Ice and other drugs not only reduce the life of a person but affect the functions of the brain, heart and body even when he or she is alive. A major operation to stop the transportation and manufacturing of the drugs in the country is sorely needed. Besides, more rehabilitation centres in private and public centre are needed to treat a large number of addicts,” a senior physician Dr Gohar Amin tells TNS. He suggested more hospitals and rehabilitation centres as well as strict laws to check the smuggling, production and sale of narcotics and some tablets being used by the addicts.
The use of drugs not only lands people in the hospital or bed, but affects their family in many ways. “I along with my daughter, 7, and son, 5, used to visit different trade centres of Peshawar to earn our livelihood since my spouse is a drug addict and does not go out of the house,” Musarrat, 30, an old beggar on Saddar Road tells TNS. She originally belongs to Muzaffargarh district in Punjab and has migrated along with her family to live in a tent in suburban Peshawar. “We are 12 members in the family who all beg to run our kitchen, as well as to arrange drugs for my spouse.”
Drugs, locally made chemicals and some sleeping pills are being used in a more ugly way when female beggars administer it to their young children to intoxicate them and earn more money by telling people they need help for treatment of their ailing kids. The pushing of drugs on these young kids not only turns them into future drug addicts but an overdose can claim their lives.