News / Asia

Security Forces, Civil Administration Destroy Poppy Crop in Pakistan

Reuters
Poppy crops cultivated over hundreds of acres of farm land in Pakistan's rugged tribal regions are being destroyed on the orders of the local political administration.
          
For almost two weeks, security forces have been culling the crop, pulling out the plants blooming with pink and white flowers, in a vigorous anti-poppy drive in the lawless region bordering Afghanistan.
          
Officials say destroying the poppy crops had become impossible in the past five years because of ongoing militancy in the region.
          
Taliban militants have held sway there despite several military operations.
          
This has encouraged local farmers to grow the crop on such a large scale this year.
          
Tariq Khan, Assistant Political Agent (APA) of the Bajaur Tribal Agency, said that the administration wanted the tribesmen to voluntarily eradicate their poppy crop, and had asked for help from the local jirgas (tribal elders' councils).
          
“Around 1300 kanals (approx. 162 acres) have been cleared of the (poppy) crop. There are some more crops left, and we are carrying out talks with local jirgas for their clearance as well. Our talks are going on well, and God willing, the rest of the crops will also be destroyed soon,” Khan said.
          
He said the government had offered to provide wheat and vegetable seeds as well as fertilizers to the farmers as an alternative crop, but it was very difficult to lure the farmers away from the lucrative poppy yield.
          
Local growers say one acre of farm land in the region can produce up to 16 kilograms of opium, and one kilogram can easily sell for anything between  Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 25,000 (approx. US$153 to US$255).
          
Farmer Haji Ameer Khan, 66, complained that the alternative crops offered by officials could not fetch even a tiny fraction of the income that growing opium could offer.
          
However, he said they had no choice except to give in to the wishes of the jirgas and the administration.
          
“The local administration officials are saying that this crop is not good, and they want to destroy it. Whatever we grow, we do it because of abject poverty. Some of us cannot afford a mouthful of food. So if any of us grow this, we do it because we are so poor. But if the officials are getting annoyed about it, we will not do it.  Around 1300 kanals (approx 162 acres) of our land has already been cleared of the crop but now that the senior official is here, we have cleared another three fields. The officials are sitting here. Soon the rest of the crop will also be destroyed,” Khan said.
          
“We have been forced to do this because of poverty. There is no other way to earn a penny here. We have no money at all. If something else can get us money, why do we care for opium?” asked another grower, Malik Abdul Sattar.
          
The Taliban, while in power in Afghanistan, banned opium production, but since the fall of the Taliban, many farmers in Afghanistan are refusing to give up the crop because it is so lucrative.
          
Pakistan fears it could face a similar problem.
          
Pakistan is one of the countries hardest hit by narcotics abuse in the world, with more than half a million heroin addicts at present.
          
In Pakistan, drugs are mostly ingested orally, although heroin is usually smoked.
          
Health authorities worry that, with cases of heroin injection on the increase, particularly in the teeming city of Karachi, the risk of transmitting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV is also on the rise.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs