U.S. helps millions of young Pakistanis unlock their full potential with antidrug awareness initiative

Peshawar: U.S. Consul General Robert Reed joined KP Governor Shaukatullah Khan in a ceremony to launch a drug prevention awareness campaign in six major cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa KP Province Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat, Charsadda, Swat, and Nowshera. The United States is partnering with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Pakistan’s Ministry of Narcotics Control in order to implement this comprehensive awareness campaign.

KP’s provincial government, as well as local NGOs such as the DOST Foundation, are also contributing to the project.

“Pakistan has a growing population under the age of 15, which, in combination with economic challenges and the ready availability of drugs, makes drug use prevention crucial in controlling what could be a major health challenge in the future ,” remarked Consul General Reed. “The United States is committed to working with the Government of Pakistan and the UN to carry out comprehensive antidrug campaigns like this one that will help millions of young Pakistanis rise as far as their hard work and talent will take them.”

“We have worked in close cooperation with the governments of Pakistan and the United States to design and implement a comprehensive approach to drug prevention,” said the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime drug demand reduction specialist Dr. Nadeem Rehman.

Over the next three months, local language drug prevention messages will be placed on billboards at strategic locations, while similar messages are broadcast over FM radio and local TV. Pakistani cricket star and UN Goodwill Ambassador Shahid Afridi has committed to serve as the campaign spokesperson. He will encourage youth to avoid drugs and participate in healthy activities through the promotion of sports.

Fun community based activities in schools and colleges will supplement the antidrug message. For example, Shahid Afridi will host a KP province-wide cricket tournament for young Pakistanis. Qualifying cricket matches will be held between various schools and colleges in the six selected campaign cities. One winning school and college team per city will be selected to compete in the final tournament.

The players will receive brand new cricket uniforms with pro-sports and antidrug messages, antidrug posters will decorate the grounds, and young cricketers will take to the FM radio air waves to drum up excitement for the tournament, discourage drug use, and broadcast positive messages about sports being a fun way to pursue an active and healthy life style. Major radio, newspaper, and TV news outlets will be invited to cover the event. The Ministry of Narcotics Control will also establish an assistance hot line to receive questions from the public.

The Drug Prevention Campaign is one of several projects supported by the U.S. State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan. In addition to this comprehensive awareness campaign, the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Section funds over two dozen drug treatment and rehabilitation centers throughout Pakistan, while supporting Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force, as well as the KP police, with training and equipment.

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