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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid