The war in Afghanistan is not a civil war. It's a drug war, it's a terrorist war and it's also a state to state undeclared war. - President Ashraf Ghani on Twitter
Local authorities in southern Helmand province and northern provinces of Afghanistan acknowledge that this year far more poppy has been cultivated than any time in the past, terming insecurity the main factor of its increase. Helmand tribal leaders reveal poppies have been cultivated on 80% of fields in the province this year. Hajji Sharif, a tribal elder in Nad Ali district, said opium has been planted all over Helmand, except the 1st district of the provincial capital. "Only the surrounding areas of the province were free of narcotics, whereas it has been cultivated in all the other districts", Sharif revealed, maintaining that this much poppy has never been cultivated in the past. Qazi Ismail Shariatyar, a civil activist, revealed that poppy has been cultivated on half of those lands which are in government's control in addition to those that were not controlled by the government forces. Shariatyar, who is residing in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand province, said both government forces and Taliban militants received their share of narcotics money under the name of Usher (10 percent Islamic tax on corps) in a number of areas. Omar Zwak, the spokesman for Helmand governor, admits that much more narcotics has been cultivated in Helmand this year compared to the past, terming the deterioration of security as its reason. Similar to war, the cultivation of opium has no longer been limited only to southern provinces, but northern provinces have also not been vacant of this phenomenon. A government source from northern Balkh province admitted to The Heart of Asia that an unequaled level of poppy has been cultivated in Chamtal and some other districts of that province; however, the local authorities could not eliminate it. By the same token, residents of Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province reveal that this year poppy has been cultivated on most of the agricultural land. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told The Heart of Asia that the counter opium police cleared thousands of hectares land from narcotics each year, and they did so this year as well.
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