Number of drug addicts reaches 200,000 in Balkh
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Civil society groups campaigning against drug abuse on Tuesday said the population of drug addicts had reached above 200,000 individuals in northern Balkh province.
They said if the government did not take practical steps to prevent the unprecedented use of drugs, the situation would threaten social life.
Khat Naw, a civil society group, on Tuesday arranged a gathering at the meeting hall of the provincial Agriculture Department. The group’s members urged the government and common people to support them in their campaign against the drug abuse.
Civil society activists from various groups and local officials also attended the gathering.
Khat Naw official Abdul Qadir Misbah told Pajhwok Afghan News on the sidelines of the gathering that their survey revealed more than 200,000 individuals were addicted to drugs in the province.
He said women constituted 30 percent of the addicts, who included children and adults, lashing out at the government for what he said pursuing a wrong policy over the past 13 years to prevent drug smuggling, trade and poppy cultivation.
Misbah said the population of drug addicts sharply increased during the last two or three years.
The activist urged participants of the gathering to play their part in preventing the use of drugs through social ways. He believed a campaign produced good results if initiated from own home and village.
Meanwhile, Counternarcotics Director Mohammad Rahim Rahman told Pajhwok Afghan News they were trying to prevent smuggling, cultivation and use of narcotics in the province. He said Balkh had been poppy-free over the past six years.
The official acknowledged the number of drug addicts had increased but disputed the 200,000 figure.
He said the government alone could not deal with the menace of narcotics and people had to cooperate in this regard.
The director said the best campaign to combat drugs was social ways and the civil society could play a key role in assisting his department.
However, residents of some districts had confirmed the cultivation of cannabis in their areas.
A resident of Chamtal district, who wished not to be named, said people had cultivated cannabis inside their houses in remote areas.
He recalled farmers would grow poppy crop in their fields on high scale until the government banned its cultivation six years ago.
Two or three years after the ban, people started cultivating cannabis, the resident said.
Hordes of addicts could be seen taking drugs in different areas of Mazar-i-Sharif, creating problems for local residents.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.