Pakistan's 'Zindagi' app raises awareness of illegal drug scourge

By Javed Khan

Deputy Inspector General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Qazi Jamil ur Rehman leads a walk to raise awareness of 'ice' (crystal meth) and other drugs in Peshawar in October 2018. [Peshawar Police] 

Deputy Inspector General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Qazi Jamil ur Rehman leads a walk to raise awareness of 'ice' (crystal meth) and other drugs in Peshawar in October 2018. [Peshawar Police] 

PESHAWAR -- A new mobile-phone application launched by the Pakistani government is the latest effort by officials to counter illegal drugs.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on January 6 launched the "Zindagi" app in Islamabad to raise awareness on the hazards of drugs as well as the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts.

"Drugs are destroying the lives of our future generation, and now it has reached universities and schools," Khan said during the launch ceremony.

Children who are being exposed to drugs lack the maturity to deal with the menace, he added.

"Normally, people don't like to talk about the issue because of shame, but the whole nation needs to be united against drugs to eradicate them from society," said Khan.

The Zindagi, or "Life", app is an effort to raise awareness among parents, teachers and others about the dangers of drugs and how to tackle the issue, he said.

The app, which can be downloaded for free on the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, contains information on drug awareness, prevention and treatment; the locations of rehabilitation centres; and success stories of youth who overcame the threat.

Raising awareness

Pakistanis have welcomed the launch of the app and are asking the public to spread the word to fight illegal drugs.

"The proper use of the Zindagi app will help raise awareness among parents and it may solve a number of issues pertaining to hidden drug rackets," said Faheem Wali, a senior lawyer from Peshawar.

Parents and teachers must keep an eye on children in their care and talk to them when they sense something is wrong, he said.

"Police and other agencies are not only fighting against the drug dealers but also playing an important role in creating awareness among the public, especially students," said District Police Officer Mardan Sajjad Khan.

Parents and teachers must notify the police if they find any information regarding the sale of crystal meth, heroin, hashish or any kind of drugs in their area and institutions, he said.

"The police will never leak the name of those approaching them to report a drug dealer. Rather we will be thankful to them for help fighting against the rackets," said Khan.

Curbing the menace of drugs

Minister of State for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi during a speech at Kohat University of Science and Technology in mid-January called on all Pakistanis to do their part to counter the use of illegal drugs.

The use of such drugs by students at schools, colleges and universities is one of the toughest challenges for the government and society, he said.

He asked the students and the public to use Zindagi as much as possible to help curb the use of narcotics.

"Parents and teachers must play their role to stop the use of drugs among students and others," said Afridi.

"Not only fathers but every mother should use the app and also report to police when she finds her child is addicted to any kind of drugs," said Yasmeen Ali, a housewife and mother of three from Peshawar.

Society needs to collectively fight the drug business and report whatever it finds about the racket, she said.

"Police and other agencies must stop the smuggling from across the border and other districts in the country, while parents and the public should create more awareness about the menace," said Ali.

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