`Pakistan must check drug trafficking`

The political dimensions of a drug scandal are "overshadowing" the very serious issue of the increasing use of ephedrine.

Islamabad: The political dimensions of a drug scandal that might involve Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani`s son Ali Musa are "overshadowing" the very serious issue of the increasing use of ephedrine, known as the poor man`s `ecstasy`, a leading daily said on Thursday.

Saying that those involved must be brought to book "without fear or favour", an editorial in the Dawn said the International Narcotics Control Board gave Pakistan an annual quota of 22,000 kg for 2010-11.

"The scandal currently unfolding before the Supreme Court concerns the unexplained raising of this ceiling in 2010 by Pakistani authorities to 31,000 kg, the allocation of large quantities of the substance to two pharmaceuticals for export ...and the suspected leak of ephedrine into the local markets and possibly across international borders," it said.

Ephedrine is a central nervous system stimulant commonly used as a decongestant in cold remedies. However, ephedrine can be abused. In large doses, it produces effects very similar to those of the drug `ecstasy`, and is also known as `the poor man`s ecstasy`.

The daily said that the political dimensions acquired by the ephedrine case because of "the possible involvement of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani`s younger son are overshadowing a very serious issue".

Last month, Prime Minister Gilani`s younger son, Ali Musa, had returned from South Africa after he was named as an accused in the Rs 7 billion scam of illegal sale of ephedrine.

The Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) named eight accused in its petition, including Musa Gilani, the Prime Minister`s principal secretary Khushnood Lashari and drug controller Sheikh Ansar.

Dawn said that Pakistan has enough on its plate "without suspicions that it is involved in the flow of controlled drugs westwards".

The daily demanded those involved in the scandal "must be brought to book without fear or favour".

"But more importantly, we must tighten drug regulations and ensure that controlled substances are not trafficked," it added.

"The mechanism needs to step up its work to prevent the country becoming embroiled in more scandals."


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