Drugs in schools
In recent months, the Sindh government has been focusing more on the problem of growing drug abuse. It is paying special attention to curb the increasing substance abuse in educational institutions in urban areas. The government has admitted that the penetration of drugs into schools has reached alarming levels and the trend needs to be arrested. The increasing trend of tobacco smoking among young boys and girls might give a fairly good idea of the level of substance abuse prevalent among these people.
It is an irony that when educated middle-aged people and the elderly are giving up smoking having been convinced of the grave consequences of the habit the younger generation has taken to smoking in a big way. Examples are set from above and those below follow them. The older generation says they took to smoking after they saw their elders smoking. Now things are going in the reverse direction. The younger generation is not paying heed to anti-smoking and anti-drug campaigns. They start smoking and substance abuse just for the heck of it. Gradually they are addicted to the bad habits. Both habits are harmful to health and lead to premature death.
The chief minister has formed a high-powered task force to prevent drug penetration into schools. The task force is to work in close coordination with Anti-Narcotics Force personnel in K-P and Balochistan. Heroin and cannabis are smuggled in from Afghanistan, cocaine from South Africa and ice from other countries. There is a need to keep a strict check on the long Pak-Afghan border. The chief minister also suggested the setting up of a committee under the health department to work for rehabilitation of addicts. All stakeholders will be taken on board so that the intensified campaign against drug abuse and drug peddling can give the desired results.
Tackling street crime
Fortunate is a Karachiite who has not had an encounter with a street criminal. There are rather those who have fallen prey to the roaming robbers more than once. Some have even clinched a hat-trick of the unpleasant experience. As many as 18,000 citizens every year are relieved of valuables including cellphones, motorcycles and cars, besides hard cash, according to media reports quoting officials. And this means that nearly 50 citizens are robbed at gunpoint every day in the city that has at its disposal the services of more than hundred police stations.
While street crimes have been a largely unchecked phenomenon in Karachi for a decade and half, there had been a cut in the overall crime rate in the city for a few years in the wake of the Rangers-led operation launched in 2013, and thus the cases of street crimes also fell. Of late though, the menace of street crimes has witnessed an upsurge. See the figures quoted in the media: 92,889 street robberies were reported to the police between January 2015 and October 2019 in which 82,417 people were deprived of their cellphones, 11,305 of motorcycles and 1,167 of cars.
That some 220 people also lost their lives while resisting these robberies speaks of the callousness of those considered as petty thieves, and calls for devising a comprehensive strategy to deal with what has become a challenge as big as anything. The Sindh CM has approved a Rs102 million plan to bolster Madadgar 15 to better take on the street criminals. However, side by side there is a need to carry out a survey to determine which segments of society are involved in the street crime, what provokes them into it, and how they could be helped out of it. A survey carried out after the 2011 riots in England revealed that most of those involved in the loot and arson were the dwellers of shanties unable to speak English, and were thus marginalised. Time to learn from the British experience.