The Senate Standing Committee on Narcotics Control held a meeting today at the Parliament House to discuss the ongoing efforts and measures to control narcotics in educational institutes, public places, and Islamabad Capital Territory. Senator Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhary chaired the meeting, and several key agenda items were discussed.
The Minister for Narcotics Control, Shahzain Bugti, briefed the Committee on the Government of Pakistan's plan to launch a "Fusion Center" for Intelligence and Information Sharing concerning Narcotics Control. The opening ceremony for the center will be held in July this year. The center will be an updated version of those Fusion Centers established in the US, and the GCC countries are also taking interest in it. The Committee was informed that officers in Grade-19 from different ministries, including Maritime Affairs, Interior, Excise, Customs, and Health, will be deployed in the Fusion Center. No new induction will be made.
The Secretary, Ministry of Narcotics Control, briefed the Committee on the steps taken by the ministry to curb the menace with available resources, despite having minimal ANF personnel. She apprised that ANF has a total of 3200 operational force all over the country, and Islamabad has less than 500 personnel. The Ministry was of the view that the installation of the latest equipment and increasing the numbers of ANF personnel would help control narcotics better. The committee was also informed that the number of ANF personnel would be enhanced to ten thousand in the near future.
The Committee was also briefed on the project "Amaan Pakistan's indigenously developed artificial intelligence-driven database of criminals related to narcotics." The Ministry suggested that the project will be of no use after the establishment of the "Fusion Center". The committee while agreeing with the viewpoint of the Ministry rejected the project “Amaan” and endorsed the establishment of the “Fusion Center” as proposed by the Ministry.
The Federal Directorate of Education briefed the Committee on the measures adopted to control narcotics in educational institutions in Islamabad. The Committee was informed that the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has taken several steps to prevent the use of drugs in educational institutions. The Chairman of the Committee showed dissatisfaction over the briefing given by the official of the FDE and urged him to prepare a detailed presentation on the subject in the next meeting.
The DIG operation, Islamabad, briefed the Committee on the measures taken to prevent narcotics in Islamabad Capital Territory and public places. The Committee was informed that the Islamabad Police have been conducting raids on drug dens and have also increased surveillance in public places to prevent the use of drugs. The Committee sought a detailed briefing/presentation having data on drug-related cases for one year in the next meeting.
He underlined that Quaid e Azam University is a drug-free educational institution now. SHOs have been deployed in the University, and Search and Monitoring systems have been made more effective. The Chairman Committee observed that the number of drug addicts is swelling and deteriorating the situation in Islamabad, adding that efforts should be made, and loopholes should be identified in order to lessen the number of drug addicts.
The Chairman of the Committee urged all stakeholders to make serious efforts to ensure that educational institutes remain drug-free. He appreciated the efforts of all government departments and law enforcement agencies involved in the fight against narcotics and urged them to continue their efforts to make Pakistan drug-free. He emphasized that the use of drugs is a serious issue that requires concerted efforts by all stakeholders.