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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.

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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs