Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Afghan Opium Update

The recent London Conference regarding Afghanistan's reconstruction discussed one of my favorite proposals, allowingfor the legal production of opium in that nation:
"Reinert says that a number of members of the Afghan parliament are also interested in a new proposal for legislation that would firmly put the licensing of farmers for the legal production of medicinal opium into the antinarcotics law. It should also help the government formulate a means to make that law work.

"Separately, The Senlis Council has also prepared a draft proposal of a bill that would make any eradication policies -- including the damage to the soil done by aerial spraying -- illegal.

"The members of the Afghan parliament who are in London for the donors meeting seem interested in the proposals. One of them is Safia Seddiqi, from Nangarhar Province.

"'This is a very good idea,' she said. 'I am really supporting that, but [only] if the real beneficiaries are the farmers. In Afghanistan the [strongest] party is the poppy traffickers, not the farmers. The farmers are poor people. They are not receiving their benefit from [the poppies]. For example, out of $100,000, they are receiving just maybe $100 or $200. For that reason, in my opinion, we should be very, very careful.'

"Another member of the Afghan parliament is Shukria Barakzai, from Kabul, who agrees that the proposals are interesting. Barakzai was the organizer of underground schools for women during the reign of the Taliban. She stresses that a Loya Jirga should approve the proposed new legislation.

"'They're thinking about 13 million Afghans, [either] directly or indirectly [affected], [for whom] that's the only way [in] which [they would] benefit,' Barakzai said. 'We should build a law for it, but by the constitution we are not allowed to do it, but we can invite our Loya Jirga [to convene], and [it] can change the constitution.'

(Crossposted to American Footprints.)


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