Pakistan is a major transit country for opiates and hashish for markets around the world, especially for narcotics originating in Afghanistan, US President, Mr Barack Obama, has said. Identifying it among the 20 countries of the world as others as major drug transit or major illicit drug-producing countries of the world, Mr Obama in a memorandum to the Secretary of State said, "Pakistan also is a major transit country for precursor chemicals illegally smuggled to Afghanistan where they are used to process heroin." "Pakistan is still challenged by extremist groups who have power over parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, particularly where most of Pakistan's poppy is grown," the President said. These extremist groups are also found to be settled in areas of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province such as its capital, Peshawar and the Swat Valley. "The Government of Pakistan is forced to divert law enforcement resources and equipment from poppy eradication efforts to address these incursions," he noted. Mr Obama said Pakistan Government remains concerned about opium poppy cultivation in Pakistan and was working to return to opium poppy-free status soon. A joint US-Pakistan survey in 2009 estimated that 1,779 hectares of opium poppies were under cultivation in Pakistan, approximately 130 hectares less than was under cultivation in the country during the previous year, he noted. "The range of US-Pakistan initiatives, which include programs to defeat insurgency on Pakistan-Afghanistan border and prevent terrorist safe-havens, have the spin-off effect of helping Pakistan to fortify its land borders and seacoast against drug trafficking and terrorists, support expanded regional cooperation, and encourages Pakistan to return to opium poppy-free status," Obama said. The US support focuses especially on upgrading the institutional capacity of Pakistan's law enforcement agencies, he added.