ELIMINATION of opium economy is a long complex challenge in Afghanistan. The Khaama Press report on continued opium production in Afghanistan and the West’s investment underhand is ‘the ugly truth behind the international opium policy’.

Although a democratic government is functioning in Kabul, with more than 100,000 international forces present in Afghanistan, no effective action has been taken so far to stop the opium production and trade.

In the past two decades, Afghanistan had provided more than 90 per cent of the world’s opium. The total illicit narcotic drug trade is equal to one-third of the country’s GDP, benefiting millions of Afghan citizens directly or indirectly. Statistics say Afghanistan has experienced one of the highest rates of drug fabrication in the past year.

Different groups, including government-military officials, the rural poor, large and small businesses, local warlords and international criminal syndicates, are among its beneficiaries. Elimination of the opium economy will be a long and complex process.

Because of corruption by Kabul officials, the Afghan opium cultivators prefer to ask the Taliban to protect their opium crops. The UN says only about 10 per cent of total opium profits go to farmers and 20 per cent to insurgents. The rest of the income is for traffickers, police, warlords and government officials.

These people abuse their position in government to support the arrest and prosecution of the main traffickers and smugglers. “The latest example of involvement of high-ranking members of governments in the narcotic drug trade goes back to 2010. At that time, several Afghan air force personnel claimed that some of the army/air force staffs took advantage of aircraft at night and by the assistance of the department of defence they were committing narcotic drug and weapon trading.

“However, this investigation was confronted with the disruptions of senior officials of the ministry of defence and the presidency.”

Now it is feared that the risk of widespread drug cultivation will be high in the coming years. Thus, Afghanistan is unable to solve this global problem alone. “The international community and countries on the drug transit route should join hands together to solve this problem that is greater than the threat of terrorism,” as the study suggests.

It adds that the ugly truth is that the Afghan opium boom and a flood of cheap heroin to Europe and other rich countries reveals that powerful states prefer to allow some farmers to cultivate opium and only support them against international terrorism.

SHUMAILA RAJA Rawalpindi

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