[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 22:49 GMT
Pakistan clerics issue heroin ban
By Paul Anderson
BBC News, Quetta

Opium poppies
A bumper poppy harvest has been blamed for rising heroin use
Leading religious scholars in Pakistan have decreed that the use of heroin is un-Islamic, in a move designed to curb a surge in the drug's popularity.

The decree, or fatwa, was issued at a seminar in the western province of Baluchistan, next to Afghanistan.

The seminar brought together Islamic scholars and officers from the military's anti-narcotics force.

Pakistan is gripped by an unprecedented heroin and opium crisis - a product of the poppy boom in Afghanistan.

Resources to tackle the smugglers and rehabilitate the users are thinly stretched.

Baluchistan, with its vast wilderness of unpoliceable mountains and deserts, faces the greatest threat from the smuggling and consumption of opium and heroin from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Poppy 'misapprehension'

The seminar in Quetta saw Pakistan's military Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) teaming up with some of the country's foremost Islamic scholars and preachers.

The idea behind the seminar was to use their reach and influence to convey the message that the cultivation and use of drugs go against the Koran.

Among those attending were 40 mufti - or scholars entitled to issue fatwas - from all districts of Baluchistan.

The seminar followed a statement from a lesser religious leader some time ago that some cultivation of poppy - the base crop for opium and heroin - was permissible for medicinal purposes.

One of Pakistan's leading Islamic scholars, Professor Anis Ahmad, dismissed this as a complete misapprehension.

"The scholars all over the ages are unanimous that things which envelop our reason, which cause illusions and hallucinations, all those drugs and chemicals which lead to a life which is not real, these are prohibited," he said.

Most of the heroin which ends up in Western European markets is smuggled through Pakistan.

Much spills off the trafficking routes for local use.

Pakistan currently has about half-a-million heroin addicts.




SEE ALSO:
Pakistan issues warning on heroin
02 Mar 05 |  South Asia
Pakistan seeks more anti-drug aid
02 Mar 05 |  Politics
UK helps fight Afghan drug trade
16 Feb 05 |  Politics
India and Pakistan focus on drugs
13 Dec 04 |  South Asia
Huge heroin find in Pakistan
02 Sep 04 |  South Asia


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific