Among the casualties in Pakistan’s longtime war on terror is, we are sorry to say, hash, according to the Washington Post.
The fertile and productive Tirah Valley region is bursting with weed at the moment and fast approaching harvest time, but many farmers have abandoned their crops.
The Washington Post‘s report recounts the story of 65-year-old ganja grower Taj Muhammad Afridi, who was forced to leave his farm when the military launched an offensive against the Taliban in the Valley. Afridi, along with a quarter million others, many of them growers as well, were ousted shortly after planting in February and have not been able to return since.
“We know that our crops are still there,” Afridi said, noting the region’s moist climate allows marijuana to grow with little maintenance. “But I don’t know what the future will be. Will the military allow this?”
The short answer is, probably not.
Some returning residents say that the hash industry is being targeted by security forces, which have erected checkpoints and have banned the transportation of hashish within the region. Roadside stands that once sold the product are being shuttered, and private homes are being raided. (Recent raids in the country have featured law enforcement agencies busting each other.)
This is terrible news for the 100,000 or so farmers here who produce an estimated 100 tons of hash in a typical year, earning between $5,000 and $10,000 annually—which is quite lucrative for the area.
Economic importance aside, marijuana has been part of the Tirah Valley culture for over a century, ever since a Sufi tourist first brought seeds in from India. Tribesmen believe hash can treat six medical conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, constipation, sub-par sexual performance, excess weight, and unhappiness.
“We also give it to the chickens in the field so they produce more eggs,” one farmer said.