The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Narcotics Control was held on Monday.
This was the first meeting under the Chairmanship of Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen and was attended by Senator Brig (R) John Kenneth Williams, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Lt. Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum and senior officers from the Ministry of Narcotics Control, Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
The agenda entailed a briefing on the Ministry’s organizational structure and role of PEMRA regarding drug awareness in the country. The Committee was informed of the Ministry’s organizational structure and that of its attached organizations. Functions and working of the Ministry were also discussed.
It was revealed that the main issue confronted by ANF was lack of human resource. Senator Lt. Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum was of the view that the strength of the Department cannot be compromised, since it has to deal with those who are destroying the future of Pakistan. He stressed the need to take all necessary measures to beef up the Force.
Chairman Committee, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen showed concern regarding lack of Regional Directorates in border areas; as these, he stressed were centres of drug infiltration in Pakistan. Director General ANF, Major General Muhammad Arif Malik was of the view that lack of a regional directorate in Gwadar was also a major cause of concern as it would unleash a huge drug trafficking portal. The Committee recommended, while allowing for a Regional Directorate in Gwadar, the fact of a 1500 mile long porous border must be considered as well.
While discussing budget constraints the Committee was informed about helicopters that were no longer in use due to lack of maintenance. The Committee recommended that fund allocation for maintenance must be included in the budget.
Deliberating over drug infiltration despite fencing of the Pak-Afghan border, the Committee was informed that ahead of this measure bulk quantity of drugs were captured at the border. However, now, drugs are being smuggled in small quantities. The Committee was informed that a total of 995 cases have been disposed of, 94 have been convicted and 53 have been acquitted. The conviction ratio is 95 per cent. While asserting the need of running special awareness campaigns to curb drug abuse, the Committee recommended the need to involve religious scholars to sensitize the masses. PEMRA was directed to consider running campaigns on national and private television channels via lighter television programs. Achievements of ANF may be highlighted at primetime as well.
The Committee recommended that in the next meeting, as suggested by Chairman PEMRA, representatives of PTV and Radio Pakistan be summoned. It was stressed that the strength of rehabilitation centers be increased. The Committee assured the Ministry of its all out support for this huge national cause.