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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Balochistan: The new hub of drug addiction

As Balochistan is located in the proximity of Afghanistan, which contributes 80 percent of global opium production, nearly seven routes of drug traffic pass through various roads in Balochistan. The Zhob route is considered one of the largest drug trafficking highways in South Asia.

In Balochistan, the mushrooming growth of drugs is alarmingly disturbing, though the concerned authorities seem reluctant to address it. Some people might make the proximity of Afghanistan-which brings forth 80 percent of global opium- as the propelling reason of growing addiction, the ground realities, however, suggest an all gather paradoxical image which tacitly or non-tacitly reflects on the filthy nexus between institutions and mighty drug dealers. Even though, in some corners of Balochistan like Awaran- a district in the south of the province- the drug mafias, apparently enjoy the ASHIRVAD of potential people, have managed to capture the institutions, thus facilitating the spread of fatal drugs.

As far as the United Nations Organization of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report of 2013 is concerned, 230,000 people use illicit drugs in the province*. This figure surely also bypasses the far-flung areas of the province where mafias are selling drugs rather confidently and openly. As we stand shortage of adequate facts and figures, one cannot be exactly sure about the overall number of people who are injecting drugs.

Read more: Opium prices soar as Afghans fear a crackdown by Taliban on drugs

Looking at the rising cases of drugs fatalities 

Recently, Mohammad Husain, who was a victim of fatal drugs, took his final breath at Mashkay- A tehsil of Awaran- leaving a whole family behind. Since the region lacks basic health facilities, the cause of his death is still shrouded in mystery. ‘My husband was a regular drug addict who might have died to a drug related’ says the widow of Husain who, along with three daughters, sees a little hope of a bright tomorrow*.

In the same vein, it is probable that he might have died due to a disease like Human immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) because the aforementioned report of UNODC further adds that 1.65 million people among 27 million drug addicts were living with HIV. Most of the cases in the province go undocumented, therefore it is highly speculative that a large number of people, may possibly, lose their lives due to drug-related diseases. Yet the provisional government is doing zero on the ground leaving a generation at the mercy of drugs.

It is, nevertheless, correct to mention that institutions are now becoming the property of these mafias who are molding them according to their interests. Furthermore, the political instability is further opening corridors for these mafias to inoculate drugs wherever they want in the province, without anybody there to stop them. Balochistan is already having a bad governance reputation of not completing democratic interim, sporadic shifts in the provisional governance hurl balls of opportunity for drugs to thrive in the society. On the other hand, Balochistan, which is the most impoverished and conflict-ridden province, becomes vulnerable to drugs owing to little education and employment opportunities.

Read more: Students abusing drugs: A call for urgent attention!

Last month, an anti-drugs Twitter campaign was organized by the educated youth of Balochistan against the growing number of illicit drugs at Mashkay particularly and Balochistan generally. However, the concerned authorities showed very little response practically. Without the due support of state institutions, drugs will continue to snatch lives at an unprecedented number. Leaving the population at the mercy of fatal drugs only complicates the existing issues of the province.


 The writer is a freelance columnist based in Awaran, Balochistan. He tweets at @NizamHassan10. The views expressed by the writers do not necessarily represent Global Village Space’s editorial policy