Monday, October 9

On Drugs 39

Roadside lunch
Jyghal states there are no drugs in Kyrgyzstan - "impossible," he says. Firstly being caught with hard drugs is 20-25 years in prison (one can only imagine). Another reason, though, are the natural borders - nearby Afghanistan is the opium source for Central Asia with its poppy fields yet to get to Kyrgyzstan a seller must pass through China and Tajikistan, with their closed borders, and across rivers or over mountains, making transport difficult to, indeed, impossible. Islam also forbids all non-medical drugs including alcohol with severe retribution.

Jyghal says that poppies are very hard to grow yet thrive in Afghanistan's rocky, dry climate and high altitudes. Farmers can make more money selling poppies than herding livestock and it is unclear if the Afghani government actively supports the crop and may purchase the poppies. Any case, there is a large and needy market in Russia and Europe while next-door China is hugely severe on drug users, so less attractive. The Taliban, for its part, is alined with the West as it is trying to suppress the poppies to control addiction by its people, a real problem for them.

On alcohol, I have noticed beer has dried up since the border though it can be purchased, along with spirits, in the city. Nb Shia practice allows alcohol and, in Khorog (a Shia town we crossed in Tajikistan), "everyone is smoking and drinking everything" Jyghal informs enthusiastically.

Jyghal and Eitan