Newsbrief: At US Behest, Pakistan Clerics Vow Jihad Against Drugs 3/25/05

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The Bush administration's faith-based initiatives bear fruit in the oddest places. Last month, DRCNet reported that DEA administrator Karen Tandy had urged Pakistani ulema (Muslim religious scholars) to issue a religious decree against drugs. At a meeting last weekend, ulema from all over the country's Northwest Frontier province took her up on the offer, the Pakistan Daily Times reported Saturday.

incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
The call for jihad, or holy war, against drugs and drug trafficking came at a Peshawar seminar jointly hosted by the Pakistan Anti-Narcotics Forces (ANF) and the Narcotics Affairs Section of the US Embassy. Provincial chief minister Akram Durrani opened the session with a call on religious scholars to educate the faithful about the harmful effects of using and producing drugs. "I wrote to the Ulema to deliver sermons in mosques on the problem of narcotics. We all know that people listen to them," he said.

The move comes as Pakistan faces not only an onslaught of Afghan opium that transits the country on its way to Western markets but also a revival in opium growing in frontier areas bordering Afghanistan. Durrani took the opportunity of the weekend seminar to also warn farmers the government would strictly enforce the ban on opium production.

"I have gone in Jirga to poppy-growing areas to urge farmers not to grow poppies. Besides, our government was assisting the areas affected by the ban on poppy-cultivation by undertaking development projects there. I want to make it clear that growing of even a single plant of poppy would not be allowed," he said.

Area clerics, for their part, declared the war on drugs "a great jihad." Islam had banned intoxicants more than 1,400 years ago, the scholars noted, and thus Muslims should neither grow nor use narcotics. Drugs are not only bad for Muslims, they said, but for all mankind.

DEA administrator Tandy had called for just such a declaration during her visit to Pakistan last month. "Narcotics are against the teaching of the Holy Quran," she said in remarks carried on a Pakistani radio station. "Pakistani ulema should give fatwas against narcotics and support the anti-narcotic effort," she said.

While the declaration of jihad against drugs by provincial ulema should warm the hearts of US drug warriors, Pakistani calls to emulate the Taliban in this regard are probably going over less well. The former fundamentalist rulers of Afghanistan had achieved "zero-cultivation," noted Durrani. ANF chief Major General Nadim Ahmad also cited the Taliban example. "The Taliban took this step when they realized that opium poppies were not being used for medical purposes," he said. Ah, for more drug war allies like the Taliban!

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Issue #380 -- 3/25/05

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Editorial: Rise or Fall | Reefer Reversal? British Government to Reconsider Cannabis Reclassification | Medical Marijuana Bills Fail in Illinois, New Mexico | Special to DRCNet: Steroids, Sluggers, and the War on Drugs | DRCNet Book Review: Sports, Sex, Eternal Youth: A Cultural History of Testosterone | DRCNet Letter to Judge Wexler on Upcoming Hurwitz Sentencing Hearing | Please Help Students Losing Financial Aid for College Because of Drug Convictions Get Their Aid Back -- Alerts Online for the House, Senate, and Arizona and Rhode Island Legislatures | This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Corrupt Cops Stories on the Air | Events and Conferences Coming Up for Drug Reformers -- Come Out and Be a Part of It | Newsbrief: DC Judge Cleared in Jail Death of Paralyzed Marijuana User | Newsbrief: Michigan Nightclub Rave Raid Nets 118, Many Charged Only with Frequenting a "Drug House" | Newsbrief: From Exile, Kubby Challenges Search Warrant in Case That Caused Him to Flee United States | Newsbrief: Britain's Top TV Cop Says Legalize Heroin | Newsbrief: Marijuana Crops Defended in Fiji Senate Hearing | Newsbrief: Afghan Anti-Opium Drive Causes Prices to Rise, Makes New Planting More Attractive, UN Head Annan Says | Newsbrief: At US Behest, Pakistan Clerics Vow Jihad Against Drugs | Media Scan: Becker-Posner Blog, Neal Peirce, URI on HEA, Tulia, Loretta Nall, Baker Institute on Needle Exchange, New Jersey Network on Medical Marijuana, Whosarat.com | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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