Combating drug mafias a tough challenge | By Taj Nabi Khan 

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Combating drug mafias a tough challenge

THE voice against the drug mafias has resonated more intensely in major parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the protests erupted on brutal murder of the popular social worker and rights activist Muhammad Zada Agra in Sakhakot region of Malakand following the target killing of another rights activist Umar Hayat on November 08, 2021.

The video messages and bold stance of the activist who launched a campaign on social media against drug peddlers has stirred public outcry for raising questions against the allegedly involved quarters and speedy justice for the victims.

Agra, who earlier lost several relatives to drug addiction has fought like a champion and spoke vehmently against the menace — drug mafias, auto-thieves mafias, smugglers of Non-Custom Paid (NCP) vehicles and other corrupt and illegal practices in the region.

The widespread drug business in the region has made the life of the locals miserable — permanently damaging the youngsters (mentally, socially, economically and physically), making them unfit to spend normal life.

Barring psychological effects on the addicted individuals, the menace also affects family life by pushing them into anti-social activities and petty crimes.

It is not possible to survive such anti-societal business for such a long time without the involvement of either local officials, influential or other criminal-minded people. Just a day before his death, Muhammad Zada Agra asked the District administration to take action against the mafias during an open ‘darbar’.

Therefore, his murder sparked an outrage as a large number of people congregated on Peshawar-Malakand road in Sakhakot.

They placed the dead body of Agra on road and staged a sit-in, chanting slogans against the local authorities and drug mafias. According to the FIR, Agra was shot dead by two unidentified men on a motorcycle near his residence.

The social activist was also the erstwhile district president of the Insaf Students Federation (ISF) — the student wing of the PTI.

It was in a Facebook post that Agra had held the District administration responsible for hatching conspiracy against him. He had also accused the DC for misusing his authority and said, “If anything happened to him, the Local Administration would be responsible.”

The provincial government has taken stern action of the incident by suspending the DC Malakand and AC Dargai and made them OSD (officer on special duty) till completion of the inquiry report.

The two accused involved in the murder case were also arrested along with the weapon and motorcycle used in the crime.But the story does not end here.

The question arises as why the drug mafias have become so strong in the region? For how long the youngsters would keep on falling prey and succumbing to the effects of highly drugged environment? Who has used the killers to silence the voices against the drug mafias and other crimes? Getting silence on slow death of the society is nothing but a crime of the collective conscience.

The issue of drug addiction, particularly the spread of ice ‘the silent killer’, which permanently damages human brain, has become a matter of great concern in the region for the public at large.

But it is not easy to combat drug mafia and dismantle their networks without making the required ground work.

The government would only be able to overcome the spread of drugs in the region if it takes the menace as seriously as polio or Covid-19. The mass sensitization and timely stern action against the drug-peddlers can help overcome the issue.

The deceased activists have also raised voice against drug business, car-lifting, NCP-cars smugglings, nepotism, corruption and other crimes.

They played their role at the cost of their lives with a mission yet incomplete — creation of a drug free society for the coming generation, the future of Pakistan.

The society stands firmly with the right cause of the popular social activists, especially when they came to know that drug mafia was behind the murders.

It is discouraging for the social workers and rights’ activists as why only those are targeted, who raise voice against the injustice.

If such incidents continue, it would become a challenging task for social activists to mobilize the youth to play their role for bringing about a positive change in the society. Their case is also a test for the State as how it takes care of their families.

—The author is journalist, based in Islamabad.

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