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In the last few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in drug addiction in Pakistan. With almost seven million drug users, more than four million of these being addicts, this is amongst the highest number for any country in the world.

Most of the country’s illegal drugs come from neighboring Afghanistan, which is known for its opium production. In fact, Afghanistan’s poppy production goes into ninety percent of the heroin across the globe. On top of this, a lot of heroin is produced in Pakistan itself- almost three times more than what is produced in America. In fact, it is estimated that forty-four tons of heroin is smoked or injected in Pakistan each year. While cannabis is the most used drug in Pakistan, the injection drug use has soared which can not only lead to sudden death, drug-related death and accidents but also sparks fears of an HIV epidemic. In fact, in 2011 it was found that almost forty percent of Pakistan’s injection drug users were infected with the virus. And with a survey of regular injecting opiate users in Pakistan finding that seventy-three percent of respondents reported sharing a syringe, it’s little wonder. Another problem with addiction comes prostitution, crime, and violence. Cities like Peshawar, once popular with tourists for its outdoor markets and lively atmosphere have now degraded to become a violence-ridden wasteland. Once bustling with tourists and travelers, the city and many like it are now rife with derelicts- those looking for their next hit of drugs.

While the increase in the drugs problem in Pakistan has been nothing short of alarming, up until recently there has been very little response from the government to try and resolve the problem. Little is done in regards to smuggling and drug availability, and there are few programs and schemes available out there to help drug addicts. However now Pakistan’s prime minister has now urged the business community to cooperate in the effort against drugs. How building drug rehab clinics can massively improve the lives of many and the country in general. Those who are influential or are looking for a smart place to invest their money that can help the lives of others can contribute by doing this. He has also stated how over 2500km of the Pakistan-Afghan border was in the process of being fenced off which would help in overcoming narcotics and illegal drugs in Pakistan. He wants awareness campaigns to be held in schools, and more resources and manpower to resolve the issue.

Efforts to control the availability of drugs, educate the younger generation and provide help to those currently addicted are positive steps in the right direction for the drug problem in Pakistan. Stricter punishments may also deter those looking to smuggle or move drugs around the country, a twenty-six-year-old woman (who recently gave birth while in prison) has been sentenced to life behind bars.

Were you aware of the drug crisis currently going on in Pakistan? What do you think is the best way for the government to tackle the issue?