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ISLAMABAD: The government is forming a mega fusion center at the pattern of the same facilities developed by the United States of America (USA) for curbing narcotics trade and the growing use of drugs in the country, said Federal Minister for Narcotics Control Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti on Monday.

Bugti said the fusion center over which the Ministry of Narcotics Control is working would be the upgraded form of six fusion centers of the USA working across the world for control of the narcotics trade.

The Fusion Center will comprise representatives of different government departments and agencies including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Airport Security Force (ASF), Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), Frontier Constabulary (FC), Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), prison departments, and other agencies, he said, while briefing Senate Standing Committee on Narcotics Control presided by Senator Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

He said that the prime minister has given approval for the setting up of the Fusion Center and his ministry is likely to inaugurate the facility in the month of July this year. The minister further said that the government has ordered purchasing of Level-3 equipment for the installation at airports, borders, and ports to control incoming and outgoing drug smuggling.

The minister said that his ministry has launched an automated Precursor Management System (PMS), an online portal for registering and applying “No Objection Certificate (NOC)” for importing controlled precursor chemicals by the industry. The PMS is playing a vital role to collect or receive, process, interpret data and approve requests related to the import and legitimate industrial use of controlled precursor chemicals in a more secure and real-time manner, he said.

He said that the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC) cultivation of poppy has increased in Afghanistan this year. He said that the ANF is facing a severe shortage of manpower as the total ANF is 3,600. We have requested for the new requirement but the Ministry of Finance raise objection over our demand due to financial crises, he said.

Secretary Ministry of Narcotics Control Humaira Ahmed told the committee that Pakistan has seized 17 percent of the total drugs seized across the world. Afghanistan produces 90 percent drug of the total drugs and 40 percent of synthetic drugs, he said.

The committee chairman said that drug addiction is increasing with each passing day in the country, therefore, all concerned departments need to take concrete measures in this regard.

The parliamentary body expressed anger after the officials of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) after they failed to give a proper presentation to the committee regarding the steps it had taken to control the use of drugs in educational institutions. The committee directed the FDE officials to give an appropriate presentation to it during the next meeting.

An FDE official, Ghulam Hussain, told the committee that his department is very much sensitive about the issue and also made groups of students in the educational institutions to keep a check on drug use. The department has given training to teachers in coordination with the Ministry of Narcotics Control regarding control of drug use, he said.

Shehzad Bukhari, deputy inspector general (DIG) operation briefing the committee about the prevention of narcotics control in the city said that in the year 2022, the capital police had registered 1,068 cases regarding drug peddling and arrested 1,230 accused. In 2023, in the ongoing year the city police registered 369 cases and nabbed 387 accused and recovered a huge quantity of hashish and methamphetamine (Ice) from their possession, he said.

He said that following the operation of the city police, Quaid-i-Azam University has become a drug-free university.

The meeting was also attended by senators, Sardar Muhammad Shafique Tareen, Naseebullah Bazai, Anwer Lal Dean, and senior officials of the Ministry of Narcotics Control.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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