ISLAMABAD: There has been little or no success in government’s efforts to eliminate poppy cultivation in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
Officials said poppy growers rely on the crop to earn a livelihood.
“We are facing stiff resistance from poppy growers in bordering areas despite spending Rs767 million to curb its cultivation,” a senior official told The Express Tribune.
The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) had launched an anti-poppy drive in isolated mountainous areas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and other bordering areas near Afghanistan. The ANF was able to destroy crops sown over over 270 kanals of land some three months ago.
Minister for Narcotics Control Haji Khuda Bux Rajar said: “We can understand the motive behind this resistance because they (growers) will be left with no source of income without this profession,” he said adding, “We need billions (of rupees) to completely eliminate poppy cultivation,” he told The Express Tribune. Rajar also said K-P government and political agents from Fata will be engaged in curbing the practice.
According to official details, government had allocated Rs174 million in 2008-09, Rs214.4 million in 2009-10 and Rs378.6 million in 2010-11 for curbing poppy cultivation. The ANF is currently running various awareness and treatment projects by utilising public sector development funds, to promote reduction of demand for drugs.
The ministry of finance allocated Rs222 million for six ongoing projects during the last three years. The ministry is supposed to allocate Rs39 million for a community participation project, Rs40 million for a mass awareness programme, and Rs36 million for the treatment of drug addicts. As much as Rs45 million and Rs43 million have been allocated for the federal capital and Quetta, respectively, while Rs15 million was allotted to make Lahore a drug-free city.
According to narcotics control officials, three treatment and rehabilitation centres have been established for the treatment of drug addicts at Islamabad, Quetta and Karachi. Quetta and Islamabad centres can accommodate 45 patients, while the Karachi centre can 60 beds.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.