Poor Afghani farmers are experiencing more and more bad luck. Talibs were the first problem. Now the new authorities deprive the people of a practically legal source of income. Let me touch upon innovations of the Afghan provisional administration a bit later.
Hand-written leaflets threatening local population with a massacre for participation in the catch of Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists are distributed in southern Afghanistan. The leaflets say, “Sooner or later Americans will leave the country, and you are to stay here.” US military envoy says, a reward for killing of foreigners participating in the operation against Taliban and Al Qaeda is promised in the leaflets. We all know, information is the most precious thing in the world. Americans are ready to pay any price for information about Al Qaeda and Taliban militants’ location. Distribution of the threatening leaflets demonstrates the fact that it is a large-scale business, and Talibs feel it on their backs perfectly well.
Americans are suffering now less losses, while the number of captured and killed militants is ever increasing with every fighting.
On Monday, just several weeks before the opium poppy picking season, the Afghan government launched a large-scale program for liquidation of the poppy crops. Head of the provisional administration Hamid Karzai said last week: “We issued a decree to ban opium poppy growing in Afghanistan and its transportation as drugs.”
UN estimates reveal, only 3% of the Afghan population is involved in poppy growing, but 75% of opium and 80% heroin illegally distributed in European countries come from Afghanistan.
Afghan administration’s political populism has got no economic basis. The authorities of Kabul plan to liquidate the poppy crops and sow wheat instead. A rather crazy idea. Poppy needs less watering than wheat; the water problem is the most pressing one for the Afghan agriculture that is suffering from drought for four years already. And what is more, poppy earnings are much bigger than wheat earnings.
In addition to the economic problems, several technical ones can be mentioned as well. Opium can be grown in practically every part of the country: in the plains, mountains and even in the city. It is impossible to perform an effective control over opium growing in the still experiencing war country. To tell the truth, the Afghan population is so much reluctant to change the habitual way of living. Some of them are very likely to disobey the instruction to liquidate the poppy crops. The opium business is promising to be profitable in Afghanistan for a very long period.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Photo from BBC archives
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/04/09/39451.html