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Home >> World
UPDATED: 21:19, June 07, 2007
Stabilizing security a pre-requisite for checking drug in Afghanistan: says minister
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Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics on Thursday linked the increasing poppy product to loose security in his post-Taliban country.

"The problem of poppy menace will not be controlled unless police is reformed and law is implemented," Habibullah Qadiri told reporters here.

Giving example, he said that the poppy cultivation has increased in the troubled Helmand province where militancy has been continuing over the past two years.

Helmand, a hotbed of Taliban insurgents and famous for poppy cultivation in southern Afghanistan, has been the scene of increasing insurgency since 2005 and militants are in control of a few districts including Musa Qala since early this year.

"The main reason was security. For instance in Helmand, it has jumped to 70,000 hectares while two years ago 25,000 hectares of lands were cultivated poppy," Qadiri added.

Nevertheless, he said that fighting narcotics needs time as in Thailand it took 18 years to overcome the menace.

Militancy and conflicts have so far this year claimed the lives of more than 19,000 people mostly insurgents in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan with an output of 6,200 tones of opium poppy in 2006 has topped poppy producing states and supplies 90 percent of the world's illicit drugs and the product are expected to further grow as more farmers are said to have planted poppy this year.

"Only providing alternative livelihood cannot lead to eradicating poppy. To overcome the challenge we need to implant the law, and to achieve this, we need to reform police and our justice system,"Afghan top counter-narcotics official emphasized.

The minister also called on international community to continue supporting Afghan government in its strategy to fight illicit drug and get the county rid of the menace.

To support Afghan government and mobilize fund to fight drug, the international community with the support of UN and major donor nations established Counter Narcotics Trust Fund in October 2005, and so far several nations and financial institutions have pledged 75 million U.S. dollars and of these 42 million U.S. dollars have been disbursed.

Source: Xinhua

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