I agree with Karzai’s cabinet, spraying Afghanistan’s poppy fields with herbicide is likely to poison the groundwater, kill wildlife, damage other crops, and sicken people.
But somehow I don’t think that’s why he made this decision.
Rebuffing months of U.S. pressure, Afghan President Hamid Karzai decided against a Colombia-style program to spray this country’s heroin-producing poppies after the Cabinet worried herbicide would hurt legitimate crops, animals and humans, officials said Thursday.
The decision, reportedly made Sunday, dashes U.S. hopes for mounting a campaign using ground sprayers to poison poppy plants to help combat Afghanistan’s opium trade after a record crop in 2006.
Karzai instead “made a very strong commitment” to lead other eradication efforts this year and said if that didn’t cut production he would allow spraying in 2008, a Western official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Karzai’s decision capped months of behind-the-scenes pressure to allow spraying like that already used in countries such as Colombia, where coca plants supply much of world’s cocaine.
Just last month, John Walters, top U.S. anti-drug official, said Afgfhan poppies would be sprayed, although he did not say when. Walters, on a visit to Kabul, warned that Afghanistan could turn into a narco-state unless “giant steps” were made toward eliminating poppies.
However, no top Afghan officials had said publicly the government would carry out spraying.