Pakistani Paramilitary Forces Crackdown on Hash Trade


What will become of Pakistan’s marijuana crop and the larger drug trade now that government forces have escalated the Drug War in the region? Washington Post Islamabad bureau chief Tim Craig reports that according to residents in the Tirah Valley, security forces are targeting Pakistan’s lucrative hash industry to try to establish more government control over the historically lawless border region.

In recent weeks, paramilitary forces have erected a dozen checkpoints and are enforcing a ban on transporting hashish through tribal areas. Dozens of roadside stands that previously sold hash openly have been shuttered. And residents say private homes are being raided.

That spells big trouble in the Tirah Valley, where growing marijuana is part of the culture as well as the chief source of income for several tribes, including the Afridis. Hamid-ul-Haq Khalil, a member of Pakistan’s Parliament, said at least 100,000 people make their living cultivating or selling hash.

The valley typically produces at least 100 tons of hash annually, residents say. Much of it ends up in Pakistani cities, one reason hippies and college students from the United States flocked to Pakistan in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. But the drug is also smuggled around the world, and terms such as “Hindu Kush marijuana” and “Pakistani hash” are mainstays of pot-lovers’ lexicons.

Time and time again, government efforts to eradicate marijuana or any drug trade through Drug War tactictics, the government has failed and the efforts prove counterproductive. Strong-armed tactics merely push the price of drugs higher, whether it be cannabis or cocaine. If a drug kingpin gets taken down, then others fight to fill that void, usually with even more deadly consequences. Unfortunately, innocent civilians will be harmed in the process as the Drug War warriors will claim the need for more resources to fight an unwinnable war.

(Featured photo credit: A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)