KABUL (Agencies): Drug addicts living under the Pul-i-Sukhta Bridge over Kabul River in the country’s capital hope for peace in their country despite being threatened by gradual death.
Many of these drug addicts with shaggy hairs and torn clothes spend cold days of winter under the bridge.
It is commonly assumed that drug addicts who live in dirty environment and wear dirty clothes in capital Kabul and other parts of the country only think about drugs, but it is wrong as they have their own painful stories and they regard the war as main factor of their miseries and peace in the country as their biggest hope.
Mohammad Raihan, 28, a resident of central Maidan Wardak province is one of these people. The man who wore old clothes emerged from his living place as the sun rays newly sneaked from clouds after some rainfall.
He stopped on facing journalists and said journalists’ long articles would not help them until the government created jobs for them. “Stop the conflict, we are destroyed by war, he said.
Raihan said he had been consuming drugs for four years and now he used heroin. At first he refused to be interviewed, but agreed when realized that the interview was about peace.
While rubbing his eyes with his shaky hands, Raihan said he started using drugs to ease his pains caused by war and find some stabilization in his life.
He said his father died a natural death but his brother was killed in a roadside bombing in Maidan Wardak province. He said his family returned from Pakistan after years of migration. He did not provide details on the regard.
As his eyes filled with tears, Raihan said his brother was a great asset for him and many other people were also killed in war in their area after his brother’s death.
He said stories of war and deaths told by people during their migration in Pakistan badly influenced him. Shaking from cold, he said these pains forced him to start using narcotics.
Also able to speak English and a computer science graduate from a private university, Raihan repeatedly complained about the war and said, “If there was no war, there would not have been such miseries, in peace, we can have job and home.”
As tears rolled down his face, he said he had worked as a teacher in a course for one year and had many hopes in life, but the ‘unfortunate war’ destroyed all his dreams.
He said he was unmarried and his family (mother, three brothers and a sister) lived about two kilometers away from him in Kabul city and he had not seen them for three years.
“My family for some time tried to find me. but we could not find each other for three years,” he said. He said he would not go to his home because he would not be able to face his neighbors and help his family.
“If peace comes to the country, I would receive treatment, find a job and then go to my home and start a new life, he said.
He said the peace was important for all people, including drug addicts like him. He added that they would receive medical treatment and find work if there was peace. “But if war continues, it would further surge the population of drug addicts.”
“If peace does not come, our future will be death, many people will lose their lives due to their drug addiction,” he said.
Raihan who dreams for peace and health asked Afghanistan leaders to help ensure peace in the country.
Peace is a collective wish
“Peace is not the hope of Raihan only, but a large number of other drug addicts also want peace in their country like other Afghans.
Rafiullah, 24, another drug addict from Logar province, responded with a lump in throat when asked whether he wanted peace. “Peace? Who is against peace, are there people in the world who deny peace,” he said.
Sheer Agha, 32, another drug addict with shaggy hairs who lives in Kabul, also said that he wanted peace.
Agha who did not allow to be recorded by camera also wore dirty clothes and had shaggy hairs similar like other addicts.
“I do not want to have a job, but I want peace because I want my country to become stable, if the war continues, it would cause hundreds of other youths to become addicted to drugs and their lives will destroy,” he said.
A survey launched in Kabul, Farah, Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar and Balkh provinces shows 70 percent of drug addicts slipped into addiction due problems generated by the country’s long-running conflict and almost all of them want peace for their own survival.
Of the respondents, 94 percent said peace was very important, two percent said it was less important while four percent others said it was not important.
Seven of every 10 participants of the survey say unemployment, economic problems, migration and disabilities caused by the conflict have forced them to use drugs while three said they developed the habit in company of friends.
Seven of every 10 surveyed individuals said they wanted peace and jobs but three more demanded treatment from the government.
War turns society unhealthy which brings up drug addicts:
Kabul University teacher Sharafuddin Azemi said the long running Afghan conflict had given birth to different economic, security and social issues.
“When there is insecurity and conflict in a society, education and primary needs of the country could not be achieved and society grows unhealthy thus drug addiction and other issues generate.”
“When there is peace and stability, no one would be forced to go out of the country for work. Addicted people will be able to treat themselves and live like other ordinary people of the society,” he said.
He said problems would gradually reduce and people addicted to drugs would return to normal life if peace established in the country.
He said healthy persons never get addicted to drugs. “If there is peace and stability in a society, no one would become addicted to drugs because addiction happens when someone wants peace.”
No survey has been conducted so far to identify the exact number of drug addicts in Afghanistan, but a survey in 2015 found that 3.6 million people or 11 percent of the country’s population are addicted to drugs.