India-Pakistan: April 9, 2003

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  In southern India, PWG rebels released one of the kidnapped policemen they are holding. The rebels are making 16 demands on the government, including the release of rebels serving life sentences. 

In Pakistan, two more al Qaeda suspects were arrested. Both men were Pakistanis. Most of the 400 plus al Qaeda suspects arrested so far have been foreigners. But Pakistan realizes that local Islamic radicals provides many enthusiastic al Qaeda followers.

In 1986, after two years of effort, the Pakistani government had eradicated most poppy growing in the tribal areas along the Afghan border. The tribes across the border in Afghanistan took up the poppy growing, with the Pakistani tribes still doing a lot of chemical processing needed to produce heroin from poppies, and transporting the drugs to foreign markets. Now, the poppy trade is coming back. Actually, it's been slowly showing up again for years, but now tribal leaders are agreeing to defend poppy growing members against outside interference. The math is pretty compelling. It costs the farmer 18 cents to buy enough poppy seeds to grow sufficient poppies to produce a pound of opium. That pound of opium sells locally for $300. The usual crop, barley, sells for nine cents a pound. Even though widespread growing of poppies will bring the army in, to destroy the poppies and kill tribesmen if they shoot at the troops, greed is winning out. The government is determined to keep the poppy growing activity way down, mainly because some of the opium gets into Pakistani cities, turning thousands of Pakistanis into drug addicts. 

 

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