Boycott of Swat's 'blood emeralds' urged

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Lahore, Apr 28 (ANI): A campaign is already afoot to boycott the purchase of Swat's famous emeralds, because the money could be used to buy mortars, roadside bombs and suicide belts for the Taliban.

The "blood emeralds" have joined the Afghan opium as a source of Taliban lucre.

Swat is rich in orchards, timber - and gems. The Taliban have seized two of the emerald mines, declared them a trust and are mining them round the clock.

The profits are split between the Taliban and the miners, making these coveted jobs in an area where fighting has destroyed the tourism industry and much else, the Daily Times reports.

Estimates differ as to the quality of Swat emeralds. Some Pakistanis claim they are magnificent.

Jean Claude Michelou, the emerald dealer who advises the World Bank on developing Pakistan's gemstone sector, says that most are tiny and used mostly for what jewellers call "baguette accents" to ornament rings or watches.

The smaller they are, the harder it is to trace their origin. But the bottom line is that Swat emeralds can net the Taliban about 2 million pound a year.

There is a proposal now to extending to emeralds the international Kimberley Process of verification, which it is claimed curbed Africa's diamonds-for-guns trade.

The Responsible Jewellery Council formed by industry leaders in 2006 has also boycotted Burmese rubies and jade and has just finalised a code of practice for gem mining. (ANI)

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