Taliban Outlaw Opium Poppy Cultivation in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban introduced on Sunday that cultivating opium poppy in Afghanistan was banned, a transfer that can have far-reaching penalties for the numerous farmers who’ve turned to the illicit crop as a brutal drought and financial disaster have gripped the nation.

Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi, the prime minister’s administrative deputy, learn the official decree to native and worldwide media throughout a information convention on the Ministry of Inside. Excessive-ranking Taliban officers, together with the appearing inside minister, Sirajuddin Haqqani, had been current.

“All compatriots are knowledgeable from the date of the issuance of this decree, poppy cultivation is totally prohibited in the entire nation and nobody can attempt to domesticate the plant,” mentioned the decree, issued by the Taliban’s chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada. “If somebody violates this, his cultivation will likely be destroyed and the violator will likely be handled in response to Islamic Regulation.”

The Taliban’s determination to ban opium poppy in Afghanistan, which accounts for about 80 p.c of the world’s provide of opium, comes because the group is beneath rising worldwide strain after a sequence of decrees focusing on ladies, together with their skill to attend secondary faculty.

The decree issued on Sunday additionally banned the use, sale, switch, buy, import and export of wine, heroin and different medication.

After the Taliban toppled the Western-backed authorities in August, the insurgents turned rulers indicated a need to ban the manufacturing of opium, however mentioned shortly after that there have been no plans to cease or eradicate cultivation, acknowledging that Afghans had been in the midst of an financial disaster.

Many farmers had deliberate for some type of ban after the Taliban’s return to energy and knew that rising the crop — which could be saved for a while after harvesting — can be funding as provide dwindled and costs rose. The Taliban’s announcement on Sunday got here throughout the poppy harvest.

In Kandahar Province, white flowering poppy fields lined Freeway 1, which cuts by way of the area. The crop is blended in with wheat and grapes. The harvest is underway, with groups of employees slicing the bulbs and scraping the milky resin that can ultimately be opium. Virtually each farmer appears to have devoted a portion of their plots to the crop.

Poppy farmers within the space, which is taken into account the Taliban’s birthplace, mentioned on Sunday that they had been unaware of any kind of ban.

The Taliban have had an advanced relationship with the crop. Throughout their first time in energy, the group made a number of halfhearted makes an attempt to limit opium earlier than banning its cultivation on spiritual grounds within the late Nineties and in 2000. However after they had been toppled following the U.S. invasion in 2001, the Taliban turned to the crop for funding, utilizing the earnings to gasoline their battle machine for twenty years.

Safiullah Padshah reported from Kabul, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Bryan Denton and Yaqoob Akbary contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

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