PESHAWAR -- Police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have accelerated efforts to crack down on drug traffickers after discovering that gangs in the southern districts of the province are funneling income from narcotic sales to terrorist groups.
"Police have launched a special operation against drug dealers across the province since mid-September," said Kokab Farooq, KP Police spokesman.
Once police in Lakki Marwat found links between the terrorists and drug dealers in the region, raids accelerated, he said.
"It was revealed during an investigation that some of the drug dealers were financing groups involved in terrorist attacks in the area to support their operations," he added.
Police have arrested 75 drug dealers during the raids in Lakki Marwat and bulldozed several hideouts.
"During the operation, police recovered 7kg of heroin and 'ice' (crystal meth) as well as 95kg of hashish," Farooq said. The police force carried out 279 raids on hideouts of suspected drug dealers in the past few weeks, he added.
'Large-scale sale of narcotics'
The force, acting on intelligence reports, conducted a raid on the hideout of suspected local drug dealer Iqbal Khan in Abakhel, Lakki Marwat, the KP Police Counter Terrorism Department said in a statement November 20.
Police arrested Khan and recovered a 20kg bag of hashish, the department said.
Khan was "involved in the large-scale sale of narcotics in the area and provided financial support to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Shah Hassan Khel Group", the agency said. One suspected terrorist -- Mumtaz Ali -- was present at the time of the raid but escaped.
Another handout by the agency on November 18 suggested a link between suspected drug dealers Mohammad Ali and Mahmood Abbas and terrorist groups, saying the two supported the terrorists financially through income from sales of illegal drugs. Both suspects are in custody.
The campaign against drug dealers is continuing across the province and police already have arrested some major traffickers and drug-dealing gangs, said Muhammad Naeem Khan, KP inspector general of police.
"All the regional police officers and district police officers have been directed to aggressively go after the criminals involved in the sale of ice, heroin, hashish and other kind of drugs," Khan said.
"The crackdown against the drug dealers will continue in order to protect youth from the menace," said Khan.
Crackdown on ice
In the last two months, KP Police have arrested 310 drug dealers involved in selling ice, a drug that has recently become popular with youth, according to KP Police.
The districts with the most such arrests were Mardan (95) and Nowshera (57).
"We have launched an aggressive campaign against the drug dealers, especially those involved in sale of ice, to protect the new generation from this drug," District Police Officer Mardan Sajjad Khan said.
A large number of those held in Mardan were selling ice in the vicinity of educational institutions and youth hostels, he said.
"Hundreds have also been arrested across the province for selling heroin, hashish, opium and other drugs," said Khan.
Police officials -- along with other government departments, elected members, elders and religious scholars -- are running campaigns to raise awareness among the public about the danger of drugs to individuals and society, Khan added.
"The crackdown by police and the awareness campaign were direly needed as many individuals are using ice and other kinds of drugs across the country," said Amjid Ali, a private university student from Peshawar.
"Many parents, teachers and students were concerned about the sale of drugs in the vicinity of hostels and educational institutions," he said.
The police have taken many actions against drug dealers and the situation has improved in the last few months, he noted.