Afghanistan still big drugs producing country
During Taliban initial years of rule, drugs cultivation and smuggling reached to its peak while the illicit crop was being planted on areas near roads.
After processing, poppy are changed to opium and heroin before being exported abroad. But the poppy cultivation rate went down when the Taliban were drive away from power by US-led troops.
However, figures showed poppy cultivation graph went high by the passage of each year.
Afghanistan once produced 97 percent poppy of the world, a figures fall to 80 percent right now. But the percent of poppy growth saw considerable surge.
According to figures provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and counternarcotics ministry of Afghanistan, poppy covered 74,000 hectares of land in 2002.
But the figures gradually went high and soared to 209,000 hectares of land presently. This figures showed Afghanistan failed in the struggle against elimination of drugs.
The Ministry of Counternarcotics said millions of dollars used over the past 13 years for elimination of drugs but yielded no tangible results.
Haroon Sherzad, a senior ministry official, told Pajhwok Afghan News $ 7 billion had been used for the eradication of the illicit crops. But Afghanistan still has been the world major drug producing country.
“The global community has left us alone to deal with the complicated issue. They employ pressure on us to eradicate poppy cultivation and production, but the government cannot deal with the problems single handedly,” he said.
In this period, only 20 percent of the fund was used through the government while the remaining money was used by donor countries, he added.
Sherzad said that drugs smugglers were active in various countries of the world but the international community did not take action to freeze their activities.
“If world states join hands against drug smugglers then we expect significant drop in production and smuggling of drugs,” he hoped.
He argued Afghan growers secure only 3 percent advantage from their poppy crops, while its rest 97 percent benefit went into the pockets of foreign smugglers. Most of poppy was being cultivated in south of the country, including Helmand and Nangarhar provinces.
Officials of the counternarcotics ministry said about 15,000 hectares of Nangarhar lands were covered by poppy. But Nangarhar officials insisted hundreds of hectares of lands had been cleared of the illicit crops during the drugs elimination campaign.
Malik Usman, a tribal elder from Spinghar district of Nangarhar, said residents of his locality turned to cultivating poppy due to absence of development activities in the area.
Darwish, a grower from Lalpora district, said if the government assisted them then they were ready to say no to poppy growth.
He said people were affected by their poor economy and unemployment, with locals have no option but to plant poppy.
Hailing from Khogyani district, Nadir Khan said: “We are forced to plant poppy due to absence of factories and job opportunities.”
Tribal elder Shamsullah Sehraee from Sangin district of Helmand, believed locals had turned to planting poppy due to joblessness and government inattention. He acknowledged the practice was illegal and against the teachings of Islam.
He urged the government to take advantage of the opportunity for providing working facilities to people to discourage the illicit crop cultivation.
Habibullah, a grower from Speen Jumat area of Helmand, said mostly poppy was being cultivated on lands out of government control.
“I also cultivated poppy earlier but right now the government has destroyed the crop by spraying on it. We are facing great problems right now,” he added.
Political commentator, Jawed Kohistani, said the international community had earlier pledged serious steps against drugs but the promises could not be translated into action with the passage of time.
The funds given by government to the Ministry of Interior and counternarcotics ministry were also misused.
Kohistani said: “Widespread graft, injustice, international community and specifically UK’s wrong policy and foreign troop competition in taking drugs to European markets resulted in increase in poppy crops.”
Terrorists were also increased along with the expansion of poppy farms in south and southeast part of the country, he added. They protected poppy farms and urged its growers to send their sons to join Taliban’s ranks to protect their poppy farms.
“This all shows some officials in the government have their role in cultivation of poppy. As a result, the cultivation of illicit crops multiplied to its maximum high in 2009,” he added.
The political analyst urged the government to seriously deal with the problems. But the counternarcotics ministry, accused police and district chiefs, custom employees and other authorities of being in connivance with the drugs cultivators and smugglers.
The counternarcotics ministry officials believed ensuring good governance and bolstered security would lead to decrease of the illicit crops. In 2013, around 3,000 drugs smugglers were detained and 700 tonnes of drugs were seized by security forces, they said.
The Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) in a report said a total of 3,016 persons were introduced to the CJTF on charge of drugs trafficking over the past four years. In this period, 25 tonnes of heroine, 82 morphine, 250 tonnes of opium, 321 tonnes of hashish and 171 litres of alcoholic beverages were also seized.
According to counternarcotics ministry: “Intelligence of neighboring countries are striving to create hurdles for Afghan government in struggle against drugs eradication.” So far, they have cleared 14 provinces of poppies, it said.
The drugs elimination campaign has already been launched in Helmand, Kandahar, Farah, Uruzgan and Nimroz provinces in which 2,000 hectares of land had so far been cleared of poppy.
During the past year, the ministry has launched public awareness, alternative livelihood and development activities programs in attempt to halt poppy cultivation, the counternarcotics ministry said.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) figures showed more than a million people have addicted to drugs in Afghanistan. Deputy counternarcotics minister said: “Cultivation of hashish and poppy in each country led to growing number of addicted people.”
In 2001, there was no drug rehabilitation centre in the country, but the figures have surged now to 110, he said. But this figure is required to be increased to 500.
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