PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police, in a bid to halt the use of crystal meth, or "ice", in the province, is turning to its newly established "Ice Desk" to monitor and track the illegal drug.
The desk was set up at Police Lines Peshawar on August 3 as a pilot project and is serving as a bulwark to protect youngsters. KP Police will create similar offices in other districts of the province over time.
"The main objective behind the establishment of this desk is to put on hold the increasing use of ice through the creation of a database of those involved in the use, supply and dealing of the drug," Senior Superintendent of Police Peshawar Mansoor Aman said November 15.
The desk will look into cases related to ice use, maintain a record of those involved and help relevant departments in apprehending and punishing dealers and smugglers, he said.
"The Ice Desk will ... recommend action to concerned police stations while taking notice of complaints registered by the public about the abuse of drugs in their [the stations'] respective areas," said Aman.
The desk has orders to raise public awareness by holding seminars, publishing advertisements in newspapers and TV channels and distributing printed material and banners at public places informing residents of the dangers of ice, he said.
The Ice Desk is in contact with organisations working to rehabilitate drug addicts, he added.
"In the brief period of about three months since its inception, the Ice Desk of KP Police has become instrumental in arresting about 252 people, including drug users, dealers and smugglers," said Inspector Riaz Ali Shah, who is in charge of the desk.
Police have registered about 218 cases, he said. They include approximately eight against drug wholesalers, 19 against street-level drug pushers and 191 against users.
Police seized 14.6kg of ice worth millions of rupees in connection with investigations and recommendations made by the Ice Desk, Shah added.
Shah soon will go to universities and colleges to deliver lectures to students on the dangers posed by ice to human health.
Authorities urgently need to dispel the impression that using ice helps in studies, he said.
Shah urged residents of Peshawar to approach the desk if they discover the sale of ice in their respective areas. Police will protect their identities when they take action, said Shah.
The work of the Ice Desk comes as efforts continue on the rehabilitation of those addicted to the drug.
"We have decided to extend support to the initiative taken by the police force and reserved 25 beds for patients referred for treatment," said Asadullah, a representative of Ekhlas, an organisation working on the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Ekhlas will cover 60% to 80% of treatment charges for patients referred by the Ice Desk for rehabilitation, said Asadullah.
The objective is to acknowledge and encourage the police force in its endeavour to free the province of ice, he commented.
"Ice addiction has been becoming an epidemic in our society, and it's time for members of all walks of life to come forward to protect the new generation from this menace," said Dr. Azam Shoaib, rehabilitation officer at Ice Rehabilitation Centre Peshawar.
Shoaib appreciates the initiative taken by the police and urged the public to co-operate and provide feedback to his centre for the eradication of the drug from society.
Without public support and co-operation, police cannot defeat such menaces, and in this regard parental awareness is essential, he said.
"The business community fully welcomes this step and appreciates our police force for showing cognisance of the serious threat faced by the public," said Atif Haleem, president of the Small Traders of Peshawar City.
Last year, the Small Traders of Peshawar City joined hands with the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) in the fight against ice and launched an awareness campaign in this regard, he noted.
He offered to let the police use the Small Traders' platform to raise awareness among the public and business community by holding seminars and workshops.