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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid