Karkhano Market, a safe haven for drug addicts

Ishaq Khan

PESHAWAR: Peshawar’s famous business hub Karkhano Market, once famous for imported products all over the country now becoming a safe haven of drug addicts in the provincial capital where the drug addicts can be seen consuming heroin freely in broad daylight on the abandoned Torkham-Peshawar railway track in front of Hayatabad Industrial estate.

The shopkeepers claimed that the drug addicts becoming a threat for traders and local people as they were found involved in robbing the passerby with their infected sharp blades and knives to collect money to buy drugs for themselves.

Hazrat Shah, 50 year-old shopkeeper of Karkhano Market told The Frontier Post that these drug addicts are really affecting their business as they were found in pick pocketing and stealing different items from shops and customers.

“Especially the customers with families trying to avoid visiting the markets if they find these drug addicts near the shops because of their dirty clothes and continuously begging for money to fulfill their drug needs”, Shah claimed.

He said, we are businessmen and trying to provide a healthy environment to buyers in the shops and markets, it is beyond our power to clean the area from these drug addicts.

It is the responsibility of government officials to clean the dirt and shut all those banned activities in the better interest of the business, he said.

Karkhano Market was founded in 1985 where around 7,000 business outlets are located. Since its inception, Karkhano Market has been famous for smuggled goods because of its close neighborhood to Jamrud subdivision of the newly merged tribal district of Khyber.

Bilal Afridi, a 38 year-old local said, it is disgusting to see these drug addicts freely roaming and consuming heroin and other drugs without any fear of action from the authorities in the area.

“The authorities need to take strict action against them to provide a healthy environment as thousands of buyers are visiting the Karkhano Market on a regular basis, affecting not only the business activities but also the local people with their banned practices”, Afridi said.

The drug addicts were reluctant to talk and continue their smoking under the cover of dirty sheets. But surprisingly a 30 year-old young man agreed to share his story.

Madad Khan, a 30 year-old drug addict started crying, told that he was a taxi driver, used to visit the area frequently for dropping and picking the customers in the area but one day he consumed heroin and now it feels that I will not be able to leave this hell.

“My family abandoned me, my wife with three years old daughter left me because of this addiction and now I am trying to get rid of it and rejoin my child but looks no one has time to pull me out of this hell”, he cried.

Everyone knows who is providing and where to get heroin and other drugs. It’s a secret, Madad answered a question.

Tariq Mehmood of Dost Welfare Organization, an organization working against the Drug addiction, claimed that the drug addicts in Karkhano markets have nowhere to go as most of them were abandoned by their families because of their actions, so they are compelled to live the rest of their lives in these dirty places.

Family support is essential in the rehabilitation of any drug addict without the support of their family; they (drug addicts) will probably be returned to their past lives and start drug use again. Most drug addicts in the Karkhano Markets had completed the rehabilitation process but without the family support they returned to their drugs, Tariq informed.

Tariq said as we all know that Karkhano market is adjacent to Jamrud tehsil of Khyber district (newly merged tribal district) and the drug was all available freely and in low cost in the area, so they tried gathered in adjacent area to get cheap drugs though the situation changed now after the drug shops were destroyed but still the area is much of attraction for these drug addicts.

Last year, the district administration launched a campaign to pick drug addicts in Peshawar for their rehabilitation and so far 2500 drug addicts were sent to rehab centers for treatments.

The Social Welfare Department shared that the teams of social welfare organizations and officers of concerned departments carried out a grand operation for the rehabilitation of the drug addicts.

During the two phase of this campaign, the team picked 2500 drug addicts from Karkhano Market, Hayatabad, University Road, Shoaba Chowk Railway Crossing, Sunehri Masjid Road, Bacha Khan Chowk, Hashtnagri Railway Crossing, Dalzak Road, Gulbahar and other localities.

These drug addicts were shifted to 10 different rehab centers including Dost Welfare Organization, Al-Khidmat, Save Life and others for treatment.

The police official said that the police force committed to clean the area and in this purpose taking action against these addicts from time to time and in the recent campaign of district administration police actively participated and helped the administration in this regard.

In the first nine months of 2022, police recovered over 903.645 kilograms of ice, 1279.431 kilograms of heroin, 18841.834 kilograms of hashish, 1381.3 kilograms opium and 12883.52 litres of liquor in the operations of Narcotics Eradication teams in conducted in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.