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Afghanistan: Drugs

Volume 464: debated on Wednesday 10 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what assessment the Government have made of heroin and poppy production in areas of Afghanistan (a) not controlled by the Taliban and (b) under the control of the Allies; (156014)

(2) what recent assessment the Government have made of poppy and heroin production from the areas of Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban.

The Government do not carry out independent assessments of the heroin and poppy production in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation figures are measured by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The figures do not take into account the control of land on which poppy is cultivated. Nor has there been a study defining locations of heroin laboratories on land inside or outside of government control. But there is a clear link between poppy cultivation and insecurity, shown by the fact that over 75 per cent. cultivation takes place in the least secure southern provinces. In the more secure central and northern regions, cultivation generally appears to be decreasing or stabilising. The number of “poppy free provinces” has increased from six in 2006 to 13 in 2007, demonstrating that where the integrated approach set out in the government of Afghanistan's national drug control strategy can be brought to bear, it is delivering results.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who represented the UK at the conference held in Afghanistan on 29 August 2007 on counternarcotics; whether there will be any change in the ISAF counternarcotic strategy as a result of the conference; and if he will make a statement. (156431)

The UK was represented at the 3rd National Counter Narcotics Conference in Kabul by our ambassador in Afghanistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.

The International Security Assistance Force is providing increasing support to the Afghan Counter Narcotics effort. Recently this has included help with this year's pre-planting campaign and support to Afghan law enforcement and interdiction operations.