She wasn't the first of Khan's children to die. He has lost two other daughters and a son. And he has seven children left, ages 2 to 13. They huddled next to him in the smoky half-light beside a cooking fire, trying to keep warm on a cold dirt floor.
He has no interest in planting roses. "I will die by the time the flowers bloom," said Khan, 61. He is trying to support his family by selling firewood, but he is not earning enough to keep his creditors at bay. According to local custom, they can soon claim his eldest daughter as compensation.
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A growing problem
Except during a Taliban crackdown on growers, Afghanistan's opium production has generally trended upward, no matter who was running the country.
Politics and illicit drugs
- Soviet era: Military occupies Afghanistan for a decade; mujahedin launch a guerrilla war for independence.
- Civil war: Various militias led by competing mujahedin warlords struggle for control after Soviets withdraw.
- Taliban rule: Taliban imposes strict Islamic law after seizing control in 1996, bans opium poppy cultivation in July 2000.
- U.S. invasion and postwar: U.S. drives Taliban from power in late 2001; transitional government emerges.
Opium production, in metric tons (one metric ton is equal to 1.1 U.S. tons)