THE Taliban Government in Afghanistan has announced a ban on the cultivation of hemp, or cannabis across the country. According to a decree by Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, in case of a violation, the plantation will be destroyed and violators punished as per Sharia rules.
The Taliban banned poppy cultivation in April last year and now this latest ban on cannabis would go a long way in addressing the problem of drug production and smuggling in the region and beyond. It is particularly a welcome development for Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries including Pakistan where tons of illegal drugs are smuggled every year across the porous border. Narcotics trade is a headache for the entire world, therefore, the international community must encourage the Taliban to move firmly to enforce the two bans effectively. Poppy and hemp were the only source of income for many families and the ban would harm their economic interests. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the United Nations and other influential countries to offer financial assistance to Afghanistan for crop substitution. As narcotics smuggling was also one of the major sources of funding of militant groups/warlords, it is hoped that effectiveness of the ban could help tackle the challenge of militancy and terrorism not just in Afghanistan but also in the neighbouring countries.