"Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Inam ul-Haq's claim to have eliminated all opium plantations in Taliban controlled territories - reported by Agence France-Presse -- seems to have been confirmed by a UN survey.
"This development could have several important ramifications for both the geopolitical situation in the region and the world drug trade...
"The center of world drug production will shift from Afghanistan, which accounted for 75 percent of world opium production last year, to Colombia and the Golden Triangle on the border between Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand."
"U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has virtually wiped out opium production in Afghanistan - once the world's largest producer - since banning poppy cultivation in July.
"A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation's largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year.
"'We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields,' said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier - a sea of blood red poppies."
"ELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 20 - This has been heroin's great heartland, where the narcotic came to life as an opium resin taken from fragile buds of red and white poppies. Last year, 75 per cent of the world's opium crop was grown in Afghanistan, with the biggest yield sprouting from here in the fertile plains of the country's south, sustained by the meander of the Helmand River.
"But something astonishing has become evident with this spring's harvest. Behind the narrow dikes of packed earth, the fields are empty of their most profitable plant. Poor farmers, scythes in hand, stoop among brown stems.
"Mile after mile, there is only a dry stubble of wheat to cut from the lumpy soil...
"But American narcotics officials who visited the country confirmed earlier United Nations reports that the Taliban had, in one growing season, managed a rare triumph in the long and losing war on drugs..."