MAZAR-I-SHARIF: The former German consulate building in the capital of northern Balkh province has become a drug addiction centre. The consulate in the limits of 5th police district was targeted by a car bomber two years back. The mission suspended its activities before resumed work at Camp Marmal.
Drug addicts have since been staying in the ruined building and local residents and shopkeepers complain the junkies have created problems for them, particularly for passers-by.
Syed Ishaq, who runs a grocery shop close to the building, said narcotics and addicts had affected his business. “The building remains ruined and occupied by addicts, inconveniencing residents.” The addicts often stole things from his shop, he grumbled. While speaking to Pajhwok Afghan News, he asked the authorities to deal with this nuisance.
Shukria, a 12th grade student who walks through the neighbourhood to school, remarked the former consulate had degenerated in to a centre for druggies — a source of trouble for locals. “Although the entrance is closed, the addicts enter the building by scaling walls at night; they sit on the road in daytime,” she said, urging an immediate solution to the problem.
She blasted the addicts for harassing women passing through the neighbourhood.
Zabihullah Ihsas, the Balkh social movement head, told Pajhwok an increase in the number of drug addicts in Mazar-i-Sharif city had vitiated the situation in the city. Lack of government attention has further worsened the environment. The relevant authorities should pay serious heed to preventing drug addiction. In the given circumstances, he said, city dwellers felt insecure.
Dr. Dawood Ratib, director of the main rehabilitation centre here, said that about 270 beds were available at his hospital. But the number of addicts was fat higher, he added. Citing a 2012 survey, he said more than 80, 000 drug addicts were present in Balkh and the number might be higher today. “We have no right to treat an addict forcibly but we can help those who are willing to be rehabilitated.” He estimated at least 600 beds were needed for drug addicts in the province. Pajhwok also shared the issue of drug addicts’ involvement in robberies and other crimes with the police.
Sher Jan Durrani, police spokesman, said police personnel had been ordered prevent the movement of junkies in groups in the city. He argued action against such people was not the duty of police, who crack down on those involved in crimes.
About the former consulate building, he claimed preventing the presence of drug addicts there. But after the interview, tens of junkies were found inside and in front of the building.
Meanwhile, residents of the city and civil society activists asked the government to address the issue as soon as possible.