PESHAWAR -- Religious scholars from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have pledged to help police in the fight against illegal drugs by raising awareness among the public.
Senior KP officials said they asked religious scholars to support their campaign against drugs because ulema have a major influence on society and can elevate the causes they support.
"We invited the top religious scholars for the first time on March 28 at a seminar held in Peshawar and sought their support in creating awareness among the public about how harmful drugs are to society," Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Peshawar Qazi Jamil ur Rehman said in an interview.
That meeting was the first of its kind and officials also interacted with the religious scholars in April and May, according to Rehman.
"The police officers explained to them what the force has already done to curb the menace and to go after dealers, smugglers and manufacturers," Rehman said. He added that while police can cut supply lines and go after the dealers, society as a whole can help reduce and end the demand for illegal drugs.
"Police alone can't end the demand for drugs, and in this regard, religious scholars, elected officials, elders, civil society, parents and every member of society needs to play an important role," he said.
Jamil added that all of the religious scholars at the seminar committed to helping spread the message in their Friday sermons and daily prayers.
Duty to society
Islam bans the use of any kind of illegal narcotics and deems it haram.
The use of illegal drugs has affected society and it is the duty of every individual to play their role in fighting the phenomenon, said Maulana Suleman Ahmad, a 30-year-old prayer leader from suburban Peshawar.
"It's the duty of religious scholars and all of us as members of society to make efforts to end the demand for drugs in our cities and country," Ahmad said.
Ulema sometimes discussed the harmful effects of illegal drugs and other prohibited items after daily prayers, but now they are giving it a special focus following the meeting with police officials, according to Ahmad.
"I have told my students and those coming for prayers to point out everyone who consumes hashish, heroin or ice and inform the local police about it," he said.
Qari Roohullah, a top religious scholar in KP and former provincial minister, said he appreciates the police initiative.
"The religious scholars of the country are fighting against all social evils, including ice, heroin, hashish and other drugs," he said.
"This is our religious and social responsibility to purge society of all kind of drugs, and all the religious scholars will perform it well," he vowed.
A wide-ranging effort
Apart from prayer leaders and religious scholars, police have also approached teachers in government and public-sector schools, colleges and universities to help in the effort.
"We have approached the heads of educational institutions and teachers to raise awareness among students and their parents about the harms of ice, heroin, hashish and all kind of narcotics," said Sajjad Khan, the district police officer (DPO) of Mardan District.
He said the response to their information sessions was very positive.
"We also held walks and seminars in which a large number of religious scholars, teachers and students participated to create awareness among the masses," Khan said.