Poppy cultivation risks Helmand’s security: Officials
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Authorities fear that poppy cultivation and opium trafficking continue to disturb security in the restive southern Helmand province.
Governor Mohammad Naeem Baloch told a gathering, held to create awareness against poppy cultivation in Lashkargah, Helmand’s province, that the provincial administration would try its best to stop cultivation of the crop and drug trade.
“In previous years the government would launch anti-poppy campaigns after the growing seasons where they face strong resistance because people would spend money on growing poppy,” he said, adding that these lead to many casualties among security personnel.
Baloch criticised the Counter Narcotics Ministry’s strategy -- as waging war, eradication campaigns and using power -- failed to curb poppy cultivation in the province.
He urged relevant ministries to seek alternative source of income for the people and asked tribal elders and religious scholars to assist the government in eradicating the menace.
“Poppy cultivation is linked to the war in the province and if cultivation was not prevented, the war could not be stopped,” said Gen. Nazar Ali Wahidi, the National Directorate of Security provincial chief.
The provincial police chief Col. Abdul Nabi Ilham said deaths of policemen during eradication campaigns cannot be tolerated, hence those involved in growing the crop should be arrested.
Offenders would be sentenced to six months jail for growing poppy on every half acre of the land, he added.
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