Iqbal Khan[1]




Pakistan has been a producer of opium for exports and traditional domestic consumption since the time of Muslim rule and the British Empire. In 1979, however, the government of Pakistan responded to the problem of increased illicit opium production and trade by the enforcement of the Hadd Ordinance. The ordinance brought existing law into line with Islamic injunctions and prohibits trafficking, financing or possession of more than 10 grams of heroin or one kg of opium.


In 1979, all poppy cultivation [licit and illicit] was banned and all government-controlled processing plants and retail outlets for licit opium were closed. As a result of Hadd ordinance and partly because of massive stock pilling of opium following a bumper harvest in 1979, opium cultivation and production sharply declined in the 1980s. The governmentís commitment to make Pakistan poppy-free, increased efforts in law enforcement, the impact of alternative development assistance from the international community, and a drop in retail prices for opium gum due to the massive increase in production in Afghanistan, are major factors that contributed to a further decline in opium cultivation since the mid-1990s.


An analysis of poppy harvesting trends at the national level reveals a decline in the amount harvested from 9,441 hectares in 1992 to less than 284 hectares in 1999.Of the three main poppy growing areas, Dir district in north of Frontier province where the United Nations Drug Control Programme [UNDCP] has been active since 1985, accounted for approximately 60 percent of the opium harvested in the country. Over this period, the UNDCP spent 35 million US dollars on alternative development projects in Dir district. Alternative development interventions coupled with demonstrated government commitment led to a decrease in opium cultivation in Dir district from 3,500 hectares in 1992 to near zero in 2000, making Pakistan one of the most successful story as far as war on drugs was concerned.


However, satisfactory results in the year 2000 proved short-lived as RECORD LAND HAS BEEN BROUGHT under poppy cultivation in Pakistanís Balochistan province in general and the North West Frontier Province in particular this year breaking the 1998 figures of 950 hectares, which were the highest in the last five years.


[1] The Friday Times, Peshwar, Pakistan; Bureau Chief, Daily Times,;


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