Saturday, June 26, 1999 Published at 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
World: South Asia
Taleban wages anti-drugs war from air
Afghanistan is one of the world's top opium producers
By BBC Correspondent William Reeve in Kabul
To mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Trafficking, the Taleban in Afghanistan resorted this year to a novel approach.
A military helicopter hovered above the capital, Kabul, throwing out leaflets condemning the use of narcotic drugs.
And at a ceremony in the capital's main hotel, speakers addressed the problems of drugs in Afghanistan which, along with Burma, produces more opium than anywhere else in the world.
The leaflets, scattered from the air over the streets of Kabul, concentrated on the problems of drug addiction.
They appealed to mullahs, parents and doctors to guide the country's youth away from the temptations of narcotics.
The evils of addiction
The leaflets pointed out that the cultivation of hashish or marijuana has been banned all over Taleban areas of Afghanistan and that those caught growing it would be punished severely.
A group of boys sang a chant about resisting these temptations. Posters painted by Afghan artists depicted the evils of addiction.
One painting portrayed the effects of opium as more lethal than a bomb. Another depicted the stalk of an opium plant as a snake throttling the world.
Poppy cultivation on incease
But the main problem in Afghanistan is not addiction but the widespread and increasing cultivation of opium poppies.
All the indications are that the growth of opium poppies in Afghanistan is increasing year by year. The Taleban haven't banned this cultivation, unlike that of hashish.
They argue that too many people in a country whose economy has been destroyed survive for their living off the growth of poppies.
One speaker at the day's ceremony in Kabul appealed for more financial help from the outside world for projects to enable farmers to grow other cash crops instead of opium poppies.