JALALABAD: New crops of poppy have been cultivated in districts of Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan amid growing influence of the Islamic States – locally known as Daish – in the area, locals living in the eastern districts say.
A resident of Haska Mena district of Nangarhar province – who met this scribe in the provincial headquarter Jalalabad – told The Frontier Post on the condition of anonymity that new crops have been massively cultivated in eight districts of the province bordering Pakistan.
“All eight districts are situated on the border area,” source said, adding it was the highest cultivation over the last few years.
These districts, local sources informed, included Haska Mena, Achin, and three districts of Khugirani, Nazian, De Bala, Sherzad, Bachi Raga and Speen Ghar.
Most of the districts are resided by Shinwari tribe of Pashtun, who live on both sides of the border, they say.
Security situation in these districts is all time worst and it is almost impossible for the Afghan security forces to enter into these areas.
Security analysts and experts having close eye over the issues in these eastern districts say the hike in poppy cultivation was seen with the rise of militant of Islamic States, who after occupying the areas have asked the locals to cultivate the poppycrops.
“The hike in poppy cultivation and growing influence of ISIS are interlinked.”
“The ISIS militants, unlike Afghan Taliban, have encouraged the cultivation, which will become a market for the drug sellers in USA,” a security expert told on the condition not to be named due to security threats.
According to previous reports opium production in Afghanistan is growing like a weed — and nothing, not even billions of dollars of U.S. money, has been able to quell it.
Earlier the United Nations had claimed in its reports that the war-torn nation provided 90 percent of the world’s supply of opium poppy, the bright, flowery cropthat transforms into one of the most addictive drugs in existence.
“Afghanistan has roughly 500,000 acres, or about 780 square miles, devoted to growing opium poppy. That’s equivalent to more than 400,000 U.S. football fields — including the end zones,” John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said in a speech in May last year.
However, locals say a large number of youth in Nangarhar province, especially its head office, Jalalabad, has also been addicted to heroin and other deadly drugs.
When this author contacted the spokesperson of provincial governor, he said the reports were exaggerated, however, he didn’t rule out the cultivation of poppy cropsin the restive districts.
Published in The Frontier Post, Peshawar