Anti-poppy drive targets poor farmers: Nad Ali residents
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Farmers in Nad Ali district of southern Helmand province on Wednesday accused anti-poppy campaign officials of taking money from big growers and destroying crops of poor farmers.
The eradication campaign that came to an end last week targeted poppy fields of poor growers only, Syed Ahmad, a farmer, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He claimed the officials did not touch the crop in Baloch, Sulemankhel and Popalzai districts because the fields belonged to smugglers and influential people.
Another local farmer, who did not want to be named, alleged tribal elders and other powerful people had shown their field to the officials and asked them not to destroy the plants. “We know officials have received bribes because they avoided destroying poppy farms of some figures.”
The farmers warned of cultivating the banned crop next year if the remaining fields were not destroyed. Abdul Khaliq, a resident of the Qari Sadi area of Margi district, said militants had pasted posters on mosque walls, urging residents to cultivate poppies.
“Although our lands have been cleared of poppies, thousands of hectares defended by Taliban remain untouched,” he pointed out.
The Nad Ali police chief, 1st Lf. Omer Jan Haqmal, rejected claims of bribery, but admitted some land could not be cleared. He said they had still a month to continue with the campaign and poppies in all areas would be eradicated.
In charge of the drive and provincial police chief Col. Kamaluddin earlier said the campaign would target areas where the Taliban had influence.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they had prohibited growing poppies during their rule and they were still against the cultivation of the illicit crop.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.