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Monday July 22, 2024

Swabi Action Committee threatens to cultivate poppy

By Muhammad Farooq
October 29, 2023
An Afghan farmer harvests opium sap from a poppy field in Fayzabad district of Badakhshan province. — AFP/File
An Afghan farmer harvests opium sap from a poppy field in Fayzabad district of Badakhshan province. — AFP/File

SWABI: Swabi Action Committee (SAC), a newly formed group advocating for district rights, issued a warning on Saturday to cultivate the banned poppy crop across the district if the federal and provincial governments do not restore Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate (GAIE) to its original status.

The SAC has initiated an awareness campaign in the district, visiting villages to explain how Gadoon Estate’s strength was eroded by industrialists from other provinces.

They said that GAIE had been established during the tenure of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 1988.

Salim Khan, a member of the SAC’s core vigilance committee and former provincial general secretary of the Awami National Party, clarified: “Gadoon Estate wasn’t a gift; it was created to provide an alternative livelihood, and in return, former poppy growers gave up its cultivation.”

Salim also highlighted that modern machinery from developed countries was brought to GAIE by industrialists from Punjab and Sindh, enjoying 100 percent tax exemptions. Later, the same machinery was relocated to their industries in Lahore and Karachi under the pretext of repairs.

Masood Jabar, the former provincial deputy general secretary of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), stated that the people of the district, especially those from the Gadoon Amazai area, had lost their alternative livelihoods. He held successive governments responsible for the loss.

SAC president Nadeem Shah said that tobacco was grown in KP, and the province should have the same rights over it as Punjab has over cotton and wheat.

He said it was surprising that tobacco had not been given the status of a crop, and the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) had failed to advocate for the rights of tobacco growers.