Voice of America, Afghanistan Service held a one-day town hall or Jirga in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of the eastern Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. Among the 40 participants, were provincial governor, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, local journalists, civil society activists, farmers, drug addicts, local officials, and students.
The town hall provided a platform to residents from various walks of life to exchange views on combating drugs and discuss the roles each segment of the society can play in saving Afghanistan in general and Ningrahar in particular from the scourge of narcotics.
Governor Mangal thanked the Voice of America for organizing the event and discussed the important role media can play in combating poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and addiction.
Zabihullah Zmarai, an outspoken Provincial Council member, criticized the government for lack of action in many areas against drugs and inadequate alternative projects which can help farmers divert from growing poppy. Zmarai also asked for measures at international level to reduce demand for drugs.
In the second half of the event, participants asked questions from the panelists and government officials on their strategies, challenges and the lessons learned from the past successes and failures. A number of drug addicts, struggling with rehabilitation, asked for more rehabilitation facilities and job opportunities which will help stop the increase in drug addiction in the province.