ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for States and Frontier Regions (Safron) Shehryar Khan Afridi said on Friday Pakistan had been declared a poppy-free country in 2001 and since then there was no production of it in the country, but around 85 per cent of the world’s poppy was produced in Afghanistan and collective efforts were needed to eradicate its cultivation there.
Speaking at a press conference along with Adviser to Afghan President for National Security Council Sarwar Ahmedzai, the minister said that most of the poppy was cultivated in those areas of Afghanistan which had no writ of the government.
“We, along with global partners, including UN agencies, should provide the Afghan people an alternative means of livelihood so that they could ditch poppy plantation and grow other crops,” Mr Afridi said.
Referring to Afghan refugees living in Pakistan for the last several decades, he said that Pakistan was hosting Afghan refugees on humanitarian grounds and it wanted their repatriation to their country in a respectful manner.
Minister says 85pc of world’s poppy is produced in war-torn country
He also mentioned fast improvement of relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan and said that opening of the airspace for Afghan flights going to and coming from India and other parts of the world using Pakistan airspace had benefited the Afghan people in terms of saving travel time and fares.
He said that stability in the entire region was associated with peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan was doing its best to help restore peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The Afghan dignitary said all issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan were being amicably resolved and relations were getting better with each passing day.
Mr Ahmedzai, who has lived in Pakistan as a refugee and can also speak Urdu, lauded efforts of the present government for improving condition of Afghan refugees living in Pakistan and resolving several problems they faced here.
“The relationship between the two countries is improving and that is what the people of Afghanistan want,” Mr Ahmedzai said.
“I am looking forward to a new relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially between the people of the two countries,” he said.
Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019