Bálint Szlankó, a good, dedicated journalist whom I happen to have met before, has recently been to Baghlan province, travelling there un-embedded, from Kabul, with the help of an Afghan contact who guided him around. This is cool, and I could/should have linked to his article before, although a major part of the readers will not be able to do read it as it is in Hungarian.
I will just insert here a short quote, an intriguing part, in my translation, about the not-so-poppy-free north, more specifically Baghlani Jadid district.
"In front of the district's oldest mosque, dazed junkies are laying around on the grass (under the effect of opium), plus a man, who has come over from a Pakistani madrassa (these religious schools constitute the rear-bases of the Taliban). He says he is a member of the fundamentalist Hizb-i-Islami party, which is traditionally quite strong around here. He takes the time to prove to us how much he likes NATO."
Illustration of what Bálint has seen - a photo made by him on the spot (the link leads to a full gallery).