Poppy growth rises, drug seizures decline
KABUL (Pajhwok): Senior counternarcotics officials on Tuesday said poppy cultivation and drug smuggling continued to increase in the country and the level of drugs seized had declined.
Deputy Counternarcotics Minister Muhammad Ibrahim Azhar told a gathering in Kabul that narcotics were not only injurious to health, but they propelled insecurity. "Therefore, it must be fought seriously.”
He said there had been a persistent rise in drugs production since 2001, harming every segment of the society from good governance to security and development.
Azhar said countering narcotics was not just related to his ministry, but public was also responsible to prevent poppy from being cultivated.
He promised continued efforts at eradicating the menace of drugs despite less equipment and facilities at hand.
A UN survey shows poppy cultivation increased by 7 percent and hashish by 17 percent in Afghanistan last season.
Haroon Rashid Shirzad, deputy minister for policy and coordination at the Ministry of Counternarcotics, said the level of seizing drugs had gradually declined and dealers were able to sell drugs with ease.
Shirzad said regions, where poppy was grown, suffered from insecurity as well as a lack of reconstruction and development activities.
Deputy public health minister Abdul Basir Sarwar said little efforts were being made to seize drugs by the authorities concerned. “Those who smuggle drugs in tonnes should be executed.”
He said $1.2 million allocated to the Ministry of Public Health for treatment of drug addicts was not enough. He said more than a million Afghans were addicted to drugs.
The Counternarcotics Ministry says its earlier capacity to treat addicts has increased from one percent to six percent, a percentage to be increased to 30 over the next five years.
Previously there were 50 rehabilitation centers for drug users nationwide, but the number has increased to 167, including 30 centers in Kabul.
More than $7 billion has been spent on anti-drug campaigns during the last 13 years in the country, but Afghanistan remains the world’s leading opium producing nation.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.