A deadly drug

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - SHAH SA­HAB

In Novem­ber 2012, there was a blast in a flat which was not be­ing used to make ex­plo­sives. It was a lab­o­ra­tory for the man­u­fac­ture of crys­tal metham­phetamine, and ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan Cus­toms spokesper­son Qa­mar Thello, this was the first such lab to have ever been dis­cov­ered in Pak­istan.

Metham­phetamine was first de­vel­oped in Ger­many in 1887, and its more po­tent crys­tal form was syn­the­sised in Ja­pan in 1919. In the 1990s, Mex­i­can drug car­tels be­gan man­u­fac­tur­ing the drug on an in­dus­trial scale and to­day the UN es­ti­mates that there are over 25 mil­lion meth users across the world. Meth is pop­u­lar be­cause it is cheap and easy to con­ceal. Just last week, cus­toms of­fi­cial held a stan­dard press con­fer­ence de­tail­ing the lat­est seizures of drugs be­ing smuggled out of the coun­try. The haul in­cluded one kilo of crys­tal meth hid­den in two sep­a­rate suit­cases, des­tined for the Gulf.

A story claims that much of the meth avail­able in Pak­istan is sourced from the Khy­ber Agency and that there are over 400 meth deal­ers in Pe­shawar alone. There are re­ports of large labs op­er­at­ing in Balochis­tan, as well as of smaller op­er­a­tions run by univer­sity stu­dents with chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing back­grounds in Karachi. All you need are house­hold chem­i­cals, simple lab equip­ment and ephedrine. Meth is pop­u­lar be­cause it is rel­a­tively cheap, co­caine sells for Rs10,000 to Rs12,000 per gram, while meth can be ob­tained for Rs1,500 to Rs3,000. Easy to con­ceal, and is in­cred­i­bly po­tent.

Meth users typ­i­cally feel an ini­tial burst of manic energy and con­fi­dence. The need to sleep or eat van­ishes. In some cases, users don’t sleep for days on end. The crash is even more in­tense, with con­stant crav­ings for the drug lead­ing to anx­i­ety, para­noia, and in some cases, self-harm. —Via email

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