Southwest Asia: Opium -- Not Just for Afghanistan Anymore?

With a keen eye peeled on his country's southern neighbor, Afghanistan, a Kyrgyz politician Wednesday came up with a unique solution to solving his own country's foreign debt problem. Kyrgyzstan Member of Parliament Azimbek Beknazarov, a former national prosecutor general, told parliament Kyrgyzstan should allow the planting of opium to pay its foreign debts.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/poppy2.jpg
incised papaver specimens (opium poppies)
"To solve this problem [of foreign debt] we need unordinary steps. I know that my suggestion will stir a heated debate," Beknazarov said. "This year Afghanistan announced almost officially that it will increase opium crops. We have to do the same and permit our people to plant opium for a year or two. After that all international organizations will raise havoc and offer themselves to write off out country's debts," the deputy said.

Beknazarov's remarks came after the parliament refused to enroll in an international program that would write off part of the debt for the world's poorest countries because deputies did not want to admit that Kyrgyzstan is among those countries. The country's foreign debt is about $2 billion.

That figure is about two-thirds the estimated annual revenues from the Afghan opium trade. Afghanistan is also set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in anti-drug aid from the United States and NATO countries this year. While Beknazarov was undoubtedly speaking tongue in cheek, there is a certain element of truth to his remarks.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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