News / Asia

Poppy Cultivation Finds Fertile Ground in Baluchistan

Baluchistan, Pakistan
Baluchistan, Pakistan
Ibrahim Nasar
Pakistan’s Baluchistan province is facing a new crisis.  Plagued for years with a separatist insurgency, and a brutal counter-insurgency, rampant kidnappings and home to the Taliban’s Quetta Shura the region is now emerging as a new center for poppy cultivation.   Farmers have turned large areas of the remote province over to opium production and in the process are earning ten times what they did from traditional crops like wheat, barley and vegetables that have been grown in the area for centuries. 
 
Growing lawlessness in areas that border the Afghan provinces of Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul has resulted in drug lords and their affiliated smuggling networks moving their operations across the Afghan border into Baluchistan say experts.   Farmers interviewed recently by VOA in the Loralai district, east of the provincial capital of Quetta reported receiving cash advances and technical help on poppy production from people who had crossed the porous border – an area where there are few checks on the movement of people and goods.  
 
Lisa Curtis a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington says any increase in poppy cultivation in Baluchistan will be a major setback for Pakistan, which she says has up until now largely been able to control poppy cultivation in the region.
 
“Now this could signal it’s going back up.  This is going to be extremely problematic for Pakistan and for the U.S. because the U.S. has spent around six billion dollars in combatting drug production in Afghanistan and the problem is expanding into Pakistan,” she said. 
 
The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs have invested heavily in crop substation efforts in traditional poppy growing areas of Pakistan.  But those are largely in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, known as FATA and not in Baluchistan.   Recently efforts were stepped up to help Pakistan’s Frontier Corps build more than fifty outposts in Baluchistan to combat the problem. 
 
Curtis says the effort is welcome but the U.S. is likely to have a limited impact in the region.  “There has been a history of cooperation between the two countries in combatting drugs, but relations between the two countries have become very tense during the last two years, and particularly Pakistan is sensitive about Baluchistan because of the insurgency in the province,” said Curtis. 
 
Pakistan’s main priority in the area is fighting a decades-long insurgency by Baluch separatists and while Pakistan’s anti-narcotics force claims to have recently destroyed 139 hectares of poppy crops in the region that is only a small fraction of what is likely under cultivation.  
 
As poppy production grows in Baluchistan so do fears of growing instability.  Poppy production in Afghanistan has fueled the Taliban insurgency and there are fears that as the U.S. and its allies end their combat operations in Afghanistan, poppy-fueled instability in Baluchistan could result in the area becoming the new epicenter of extremism, criminality and violence in the region.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: RScott from: Colorado, USA
May 22, 2014 1:54 PM
After 12+ years of military occupation and "reconstruction" spending billions on counter narcotics, Helmand province (Afg.) still produces some 30-40% of the WORLD'S opium. Clearly the US has been ineffective in addressing the issue. How can they be expected to help Pakistan?? And eradication alone is not the answer.

by: MUSTAFA from: INDIA
May 21, 2014 5:53 AM
Pakistan cannot control poppy production in Balouchistan, they have little control over day to day transactions. Al Qaida and its subsidiary killing innocent peoples on daily basis and Balouchistan Govt is completely unable to capture human killers. Last Year in Balouchistan more then 2500/= were killed by Hired Terrorist but no human killer capture by Govt. I think they are lossing control over Balouchistan, all market places in Quetta and other places close by 5pm due to law and order situation. If USA will pressurise Pakistan Govt, then they will take some light action but from Balouchistan Govt side I do not think there is any desire to take any action.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs