Afghanistan seeks world support to fight drugs

Kabul, December 5, 2004 – Afghanistan on Sunday called upon the international community to help fight against the booming poppy cultivation in the post-war country, a ranking Afghan official said Sunday afternoon.

"Poppy plantation is illegal and defames Afghanistan. We are determined to fight against the menace and eliminate it but we will not achieve the goal unless the world community assists," Deputy Interior Minister on Narcotics Mohammad Daud told reporters at a gathering devoted to counter-narcotics strategy here.

The post-war Afghanistan with an output of 3,600 tones of opium in 2003 became the single largest supplier of the raw material used in heroin manufacturing in the world and the product would have hit an all time record if the climate cooperated in the outgoing year as more farmers devoted more lands to growing poppy.

"We urge the international community to help Afghan government in providing alternative crops to our farmers in order to replace the poppy," noted the top Afghan official in charge of anti-drug affairs. Replying to a question, he confirmed that the United States had already pledged 780 million US dollars to help the Afghan authority in its war on illicit drugs.

To eradicate the alarming phenomenon of poppy in the war-torn central Asian state, he said that the transitional government had designed shot-term and long-term plans and was hopeful to deliver within five years. Under a counter-narcotics strategy launched in May last year, Afghanistan has planned to reduce poppy cultivation by 75 percent by 2008. To implement the strategy, a two-day conference is going to be opened at the Presidential Palace on next Thursday, two days after the inauguration ceremony of H.E. President Hamid Karzai as the first elected president of Afghanistan.