06/28/2004, 00.00
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Anti-Narcotics Day spotlights growing drug use

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistan observed International Anti-Narcotics day with seminars and workshops June 26th as the drug situation in the country continues to worsen.

Official government report 3.5 to 4 million addicts in the country, with non-government organizations citing over 5 million, 97 percent of whom are men. Most addicts are educated but unemployed men between 20 and 30. However lower level employees and self-employed taxi and rickshaw drivers have also become addicted to the mixed drugs easily available at medical stores and clinics.

The majority of addicts have switched to the use of allopathic medicines, including injections and tablets, as well as Homeopathic alcohol an alternative to opium, heroin and morphine. Drug traffickers continue selling these mixed items.

From 2002-2003, law enforcement agencies managed to seize more than 4,000 kg of opium and over 20,000 kg of hashish. Director-general of the Anti-Narcotics Force
(ANF), Maj-Gen Nadeem Ahmed stated that the year 2003 and 2004 saw a resurgence of poppy cultivation in some areas in the tribal belt, as well as in Balochistan. "We reacted swiftly to the situation and destroyed 62 per cent of the crop cultivated over an area of 6,680 hectares in the year 2002-03 and again 78 per cent of the crop cultivated on an area of 6,616 hectares in the year 2003-04. That was a successful operation but the worrisome part was that people are again turning towards poppy cultivation,"

The United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and other NGO's have strategized to make Pakistan a drug-free country, though the users' shift from narcotics to medicinal drugs have largely sabotaged these efforts. (QF)

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