Addictive Soils of Tirah

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Addictive Soils of Tirah, Omar Afridi
Published in Khyber.ORG on Tuesday, June 9 2009 (

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Addictive Soils of Tirah

Omar Afridi

Publishing Date: Tuesday, June 9 2009

According to Tribal Laws and Tradition, the plantation of Wild Hemp or Cannabis (known as Bhang) & Opium (known as Afeem) is considered perfectly legal. However, the Taleban Government in Afghanistan had its effects felt in Tirah because under their influence, the local Ulema also banned its plantation in certain areas. This year, it seems those Ulema have either turned a blind eye to its plantation or are simply not able to challenge the power of those who have money.

خوش نما پھول
The Delight on a Good Crop

The Difference is Clear

The farmers say that if they plant wheat in an area they may be able to earn twenty thousand rupees for the crop. But in sharp contrast to this, if they plant Wild Hemp in the same area, they can earn from sixty to eighty thousand rupees. Even better, if their opium fields turn out to be good and healthy, than the turnout may be 2,00,000 - 2,50,000 rupees per annum. The Government of Pakistan has made claims that they have destroyed the crop in many areas. But at the end of May this year in the far and unreachable areas, one could easily see the juicy buds of the crop with its beautiful flowers just about to bloom.

Great Care is Required

Hard Work Bears Good Fruit

When the sun sets & darkness is about to prevail, the farmers make cuts on the sides of the buds with a specific tool. Throughout the night, a black syrup oozes out of the buds and sticks to the skin on the outside. Before sunrise, the farmers go to the fields and remove the collected syrup from the plants. This black syrup is Opium (Afeem).

کام کی چیز
The Tool Used to make Cuts

Made in Tirah

The tool used to make cuts in the opium buds are made by well experienced and expert craftsmen. If the blades on the tool cut into the buds even slightly more than required, the syrup will simply fall inside the bud instead of sticking to its exterior and in this way it will be wasted.

How Much is it Worth?

Good and Evil

To the people, this is just a trade. They insist that nothing in this world is good or bad, rather it is the use of it that makes it either one of them. In May, when the flowers are blooming, a Kilo of fresh Opium will fetch 20-25,000 rupees whereas dry Opium would cost 35-40,000. In the open markets of Bara, the price usually increases.

A good pair of Cattle

What Will You Choose?

A good pair of cattle is required for the plantation. If this man would sow wheat or barley, he may be able to earn six or seven thousand rupees, but wild hemp will help him earn 40,000. It is of course a very tempting incentive.

بھنگ کا دانہ

The Flight of the Seeds

Good seed always guarantees a good crop. It has never crossed the minds of any multinational company to secure the copyrights for the name of the Bhang (Hemp) plant seeds. These seeds put a veil on all worldly thoughts.

نشیلے پتے
All the Magic is in the Leaves

Getting Warmed Up:

It is May. The fragile flowers of the plant are about to bloom and all farmers are praying to the heavens for rainfall. The crop will mature in October. Once it matures, the hardened and dry buds will then become 'dust' and will then be used as drugs in 'saintly' places and shrines to warm up.

چرسی بازار
Charsi Bazar in Tirah Bagh

A Game of Demand & Reach

In the bazaars the sellers wait for the prices to increase and while this happens, they store the Garda and Chars in goat skin. Once a good price opens up, the stored stock floods the markets. The price of a type of Chars; known as 'Awal Gul' or the 'First Flower' keeps on floating between the range of 5000 and 10,000 rupees per Kilo.

From Kalashnikov to RPGs, everything is available here

The Fifth Religion

The Tribal Areas are sometimes referred to as 'the Forbidden Areas', 'the Azad Qabail' (Free Tribes), or 'Yaghistan'. The reason for this is that never has there been a Khanate, Monarchy or any alternate system of government enforced here. Instead, the people sort out their affairs through tradition. There is much demand of weapons because due to the absence of any kind of 'Security Agency', the people are left to defend themselves by their own means. In Tirah, a weapon is referred to as the 'Fifth Religion'.

اوپن مارکیٹ
All this is for Sale

Deals Fitting your Wallets

To buy a weapon, you don't need to go to a highly decorated high street shop. They are available any place, any time. An old Kalashnikov may fetch six thousand rupees whereas a sealed and brand new one will cost 20-25,000.

Over here, a new born child hears the fire of a Kalashnikov before Azan is said in his ears.

The Bejewelled Tribesmen of Tirah


Weapons are considered as the 'Jewellery of Men' in the Tribal Areas. The household stove may be cold, but the barrel of the gun is kept warm. However, non-Muslims and Hamsaya (subordinates) are not allowed to carry weapons anywhere.


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Addictive Soils of Tirah, Omar Afridi
Published in Khyber.ORG on Tuesday, June 9 2009 (