Obama names India, Pakistan among drug majors

September 17th, 2010 - 9:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) US President Barack Obama has identified India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and 17 other countries as major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing nations.

The other countries on the Majors List are the Bahamas, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Obama did not mention the reasons for keeping India on the list. He called Pakistan “a major transit country for opiates and hashish for markets around the world, especially for narcotics originating in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan also is a major transit country for precursor chemicals illegally smuggled to Afghanistan where they are used to process heroin.”

On the role played by terror-linked groups, Obama said: “Pakistan is still challenged by extremist groups who have power over parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly where most of Pakistan’s poppy is grown.

“These extremist groups are also found in settled areas of the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province such as its capital, Peshawar, and the Swat Valley.”

But Obama gave a clean chit to Islamabad saying the government “is forced to divert law enforcement resources and equipment from poppy eradication efforts to address these incursions.

“The government of Pakistan remains concerned about opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and is working to return to opium poppy-free status soon,” the president said.

“A joint US-Pakistan survey in 2009 estimated that 1,779 hectares of opium poppies were under cultivation in Pakistan, approximately 130 hectares less than was under cultivation during the previous year,” said Obama.

Obama said Afghanistan continued “to be the world’s largest producer of opium poppies and a major source of heroin”.

He credited the government of President Hamid Karzai with reducing opium poppy cultivation from 157,000 hectares in 2008 to 131,000 hectares in 2009, a 17 percent fall.

He accepted that “Poppy cultivation remains largely confined to provinces in the south and west where security problems greatly impede counternarcotics efforts. Nearly all significant poppy cultivation occurs in insecure areas with active insurgent elements.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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