With spiraling growth of addiction to narcotics, the level of production is found terrifying. These days more than ever, experts and analysts write about how phenomenon of narcotic has turned out terrible, and to what extent people may fall victim to it. There are huge reports and news daily released on webs, TVs and headlines of newspapers, talking about the growing threat of addiction, as well as opium cultivation and its trafficking which enormously raise fund for Taliban-led militants and its Al-Qaeda ally.
The Kabul government, along with international allies, has held measures to curb the production which has broken the records and set the country on the top list of biggest world opium producer and exporter, but none of measures has yet proved effective and each has failed to realize the intended objectives.
Foreign allies and the government till now have held two major initiatives to control the cultivation: one, providing seeds, fertilizers and cash, and second, destroying opium farms. In the first case, many viewed that opium cultivation has been largely linked to widespread poverty.
Since the opium cultivation could meet poor farmers' necessity make comparatively better living condition, they were enticed to cultivate it. However, the very notion initially was severely criticized, argued that there were poorer regions across the country, but still people did not cultivate opium to subsist. Instead, they tolerate harsh economic situation and cultivated wheat, barley etc.
The notion found supporters, and, as result, government injected cash received from foreign donors and provided seeds and fertilizers, but the measure did not work out well. Moreover, it appeared counterproductive, and farmers, noticing the poor government's policy of paying price for oppositions, further insisted on opium cultivation.
The second measure was doomed to first one's destiny. Security forces acted so loosely in the case, as one of my friends from Helmand province, once told me that police actually were not destroying opium crops. "We were informed that police has come to destroy the crop and we all went to observe how they destroy farms.
With my own eyes I saw police with stick in hand but not on opium cultivated lands, instead on the part where there were no crops. Filming was in such a way that was showing police on the land destroying the crop". Even if we assume him to be wrong, there is one thing that can be claimed with certainty that police bluntly failed to destroy crops. Ignoring restive areas, poppy cultivation is large in areas where government holds dominance.
In other words, poppy cultivation is not only in the areas where Taliban-led militants sustained dominance, but also in the areas where government has full authority but has failed to erase opium production.
If security forces really decided to destroy poppy lands, they might succeed, because it is cultivated annually. Destruction of poppy lands could deal blow to farmers, and caused them not to grow next year. But such thing did not take place, farmers continued cultivation.
Only two reasons can be counted for the failure. Decision makers have not been willing to destroy because some of them too are involved in trafficking, and second security forces were corrupt and bribed by owners to avoid destruction. The third possibility is that Taliban-led militants and war lords caused the failure, but it might be right in places where militants hold dominance.
However, it should be noticed that ministry of counter narcotics frequently announced with delight that narcotic production has largely decreased. During 2009-10, credible reports showed that all over production has decreased tremendously. But recent reports show the production level has crossed that of previous two years. Foreign and domestic officials have linked the growth to price. As drug price has crossed $200 per Kg, farmers once again turned back and cultivate opium.
The process disastrous and addiction severely increases among citizens, particularly young generation. To curb the phenomena, religious scholars are asked by government to play active role.
On October 24, around 600 Mullahs took part in a three day-long conference to find way out opium mess. The general circumstance was largely dominated by classic notion that Mullahs actually can cope with the phenomenon through preaching from Mosques.
On October 27, thanks Allah, they unanimously agreed that narcotic production and trafficking was Haram (taboo). Finally, they issued a fatwa, which was read out by Mohammad Shoaib Saiqal, the Islamic Studies director at the Ministry of Education. The first part of the fetwa says poppy cultivation is forbidden by the Holy Quran, Sunnah and Hadith of Prophet Mohammad (S.A.). The second part says cultivation and trafficking is contrary to Islam, because they plunge Muslim society into moral decay.
Now, the question is: can religious decree affect opium production? However, it is too early to answer the question, but certainly Mullahs have deep influence over people.
If they are active to send the message from religious tribunals, and truly maintain that poppy cultivation is really Haram, perhaps, the level of production will start declining.
But there is one thing: they should have issued the fetwa years ago. Now, though they have decided so late, as addiction has already sent thousands into graveyard and brought misery for a million, but the three-day-long conference was a small to contain the unbridled opium tragedy, on condition respected Mullahs do not forget while looking to eyes followers who are largely engaged in cultivation. Every one should play their role to observe their religious obligation; otherwise narcotic will arise as storm and washes away socio-political stability for ever.