Pakistan says countries should buy Afghan opium
.c Kyodo News Service
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 23 (Kyodo) - Pakistani Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider urged the international community Wednesday to buy opium produced in Afghanistan for medical use to help the war-torn country plant substitute crops.
Haider made the proposal at a press conference on the release of a report for 1999 by the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The report said Afghanistan produced a bumper crop of 4,800 tons of opium in 1999, roughly 75% of world production.
Opium is made from poppy herbs and heroin is processed from opium.
''The commitment of (the) Taliban in Afghanistan to ban opium poppy cultivation and heroin manufacture remains questionable,'' the report said.
The radical Islamic Taliban government continues to collect ''usher,'' an Islamic tax on all agricultural products, including opium poppy crops, it said.
The Taliban has banned the processing of opium into heroin and announced plans for a 33% reduction in cultivated area for poppy crops for the next crop year.
Haider urged the international community to provide assistance to the Taliban to plant substitute crops in poppy fields, as is done in Pakistan, and to officially buy opium from Afghan farmers, as is done in India.
Haider said poppy cultivation ended in Pakistan through local and international efforts to offer substitute crops to farmers.
An INCB official said India, Turkey and Australia are allowed to grow opium poppy for pharmaceutical firms.
''The world must not walk away from (Afghanistan). There is enough peace in Afghanistan to undertake crop substitution projects in the main poppy growing areas,'' Haider said. He proposed that the INCB make arrangements for buying opium from Afghan farmers.
Pakistan is one of the few countries that recognizes the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
+++++++++++++++ AAR Editor's Note +++++++
When is the INCB going to get serious about the runaway Taliban drug problem?
Opium production almost doubles every couple of years in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan (estimated at around 5000 tons of opium in 1999), and the "purist seminarian" militia of "peace and security" derives millions of dollars for its war machine from the "internationally illegal" cultivation of poppy, and the production and trafficking of opium/heroin, by imposing a tax, under the guise of "usher." The drug proceeds are then used to shelter alleged "terrorists," provide protection to drug mafias (said to have very intimate relations to the Pakistani establishment), and finally invested in the war machine that has claimed thousands of Afghan lives, destroyed hundreds of villages and towns, and decimated the remainder of the Afghan infrastructure. Inspite of these tragic facts, we keep hearing from the "purist seminarians," the UN coordinator for aid and some NGOs with vested monetary interests that the militia of "peace and security" needs assistance and aid to continue with the "reconstruction" effort. They blame the Security Council sanctions and lack of "engagement" on the part of the world community for the problems facing Afghans. Has Mr. De Mul ever questioned what happens to the millions derived from drug production, trafficking and smuggling? Obviously that does not fall within his job description, but counting child-soldiers at the battle-front does!
Are the opium/heroin proceeds spent by the "seminarians" and their known Pakistani/Arab accomplices to kill Afghans or are they spent to feed the needy, build schools and medical clinics for the people? But surely, according to the "coordinator" and the NGOs with vested interests, building schools, clinics and feeding the people are responsibilities of the international community, while "tax revenues" are spent to kill Afghans.
It was recently revealed at a seminar in Islamabad that the Taliban war-chest is no less than $130 million for fiscal year 2000 (aside from other sources that are part of an elaborate covert operation).
Finally, why Moinudin Haider? It is distressing to hear the Pakistani Interior Minister speak on this subject. Has Pakistan already delegated the Afghan affairs bureau away from the ISI Afghan cell to the Interior Ministry? It was only two years ago that one of Mr. Haider's predecessors in the Pakistani cabinet called Afghanistan "Pakistan's fifth economic province."
Therein lies the main problem that needs to be realized and tackled with. (AAR)
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