Balochistan: the new drug addiction hub

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In Balochistan, the explosive growth of drugs is alarming and worrying, although the authorities concerned seem reluctant to deal with it. Some people might point to proximity to Afghanistan – which produces 80% of the world’s opium – as the propelling reason for the growing addiction, the realities on the ground however suggest a paradoxical picture which, tacitly or not, reflects the dirty connection between institutions and powerful drug traffickers. Even though, in some corners of Baluchistan like Awaran – a district in the south of the province – drug mafias, apparently taking advantage of the ASHIRVAD of potential people, have managed to take over institutions, thus facilitating the spread of drugs deadly.

According to the 2013 report of the United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 230,000 people use illicit drugs in the province*. This figure surely also bypasses the remote areas of the province where the mafias sell drugs rather confidently and openly. As we lack adequate facts and figures, one cannot be exactly sure of the total number of people who inject drugs.

Read more: Opium prices soar as Afghans fear Taliban drug crackdown

Looking at the rising cases of drug-related deaths

Recently, Mohammad Husain, who was a victim of deadly drugs, breathed his last in Mashkay – A tehsil from Awaran – leaving an entire family behind. As the area lacks basic sanitation facilities, the cause of his death is still shrouded in mystery. “My husband was a regular drug addict who could have died of a drug problem,” says Husain’s widow who, with three daughters, sees some hope for a bright future*.

In the same vein, it is likely that he died from a disease like Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) as the aforementioned UNODC report further adds that 1.65 million people among 27 million drug users were living with HIV. Most cases in the province are undocumented, so it is highly speculative that large numbers of people could eventually lose their lives to drug-related illnesses. Yet the provisional government does nothing on the ground, leaving a generation at the mercy of drugs.

It is nevertheless fair to mention that the institutions are now becoming the property of these mafias who shape them according to their interests. In addition, political instability opens more corridors for these mafias to inoculate drugs wherever they want in the province, with no one to stop them. Baluchistan already has a bad governance reputation for not completing the democratic interim, sporadic changes in the interim governance throw balls of opportunity for drugs to thrive in society. On the other hand, Balochistan, which is the poorest and most conflict-affected province, is becoming vulnerable to drugs due to few education and employment opportunities.

Read more: Student Drug Addicts: Call for Urgent Attention!

Last month, an anti-drug Twitter campaign was organized by the educated youth of Balochistan against the growing number of illicit drugs in Mashkay in particular and Balochistan in general. However, the authorities concerned showed very little response in practice. Without the support of state institutions, drugs will continue to claim unprecedented numbers of victims. Leaving people at the mercy of deadly drugs only compounds the province’s existing problems.

The author is a freelance columnist based in Awaran, Balochistan. He tweets at @NizamHassan10. The opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Global Village Space

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