Guns and poppies in Sindh

The children in Sindh are being pushed into deadly addiction. They are being given drugs instead of books in their hands. I see no hope for the people of Sindh if this goes on.

Dr Meher Zaidi July 27, 2010
There are powerful people who suddenly appear with lots of arms, all brand new, semi-automatic weapons, into villages like Buriro , in rural Dadu, Sindh. People, the poor villagers are asked to hand over the lands to them and just work as tillers and do what they are told . They are threatened with dire consequences and even death if they do not cooperate. The police looks away and a new crop is cultivated.

I used to listen to a famous US rock and roll band named ‘Guns and Roses’. Now it seems Sindh has over the last two decades become the land of ‘Poppies and Guns’. This has happened quietly, clandestinely, under the watchful eyes of our so- called popular politicians, who have even not bothered to raise this issue because “Waderas” and “feudal lords” are involved. The police and administration under the previous governments has also looked away because they did not want to “disturb” the status quo in Sindh. People get killed for talking about the drug issues. Who wants to sacrifice their lives and livelihoods? Who wants to disturb their kids going to elite English medium schools, with drivers and air conditioned cars with government number plates, paid for by the poor, wretched tax-payer? This tax payer is the only tax payer who is paying to help people.

The drug trade is multiplying by the billions of rupees it is earning. Everyone’s wife and mother and sister is going to Dubai and London for Jahez shopping or even for Eid shopping now. Where is the money coming from? The land in “Kacha” areas is also being fought over. It will not benefit the poor tiller. The drug crop is clandestinely grown with the blessings of the powerful and landed in Sindh. The product is refined for use in small factories in towns and cities all over Sindh. The market for such products is all over Sindh. The number of drug addicts is increasing by millions. Diseases like hepatitis, HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, you name it are spreading fast and furiously in cities like Larkana, Sukkur, Karachi, Hyderabad. The government health programmes are deficient and their services overwhelmed.

According to the people residing in villages in Sindh especially near “Kacha”, Nawabshah, Dadu ,Shahdadkot,  they live in perpetual fear of the landlords who come and take over their lands fearlessly. Will there be no voice from the peoples’ representatives? They are either scared or in league themselves.

It seems the true sense or power to the people is still a long way. The power of guns, ammunition and death rules all over Sindh. Each day local television channels run news, programs and debates questioning the supply and presence of arms , tribal clashes and multiple deaths. The debates never answer the real facts that the drug mafia has taken over the lands of Sindh. After all they have to live there. According to a documentary by Dawn News television a very large area in Dadu, Shadadkot area was seen by their team as under cultivation of the poppy crop. They were threatened not to film. The administration looks away too.

Only God knows what the Narcotics Control Board is doing. If they are doing any thing it is not showing.

The children and youth in Sindh are being pushed into deadly addiction. They are being given drugs instead of books in their hands. I see no hope for the people of Sindh if this menace of cultivation of the poppy crop continues. Soon there will be food shortages as the crop that will get more money will be grown. The moral power of conscience that guides an honest simple farmer has been overtaken by a gang, mafia of land owners and criminals who take away the lands from poor villagers forcibly.

Is anyone listening?
Dr Meher Zaidi A blog on development, health and human rights.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.