Flashback: US and NATO troops protecting Afghan drug trade


Published on 08-05-2008

Poppy cultivation in Garmser, southern Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Source: Pakistan Post – Naveed Miraj

ISLAMABAD: After the fall of Taliban government, Afghanistan has again become a hub of narcotics cultivation and smuggling. Thanks to protection, being provided by the US troops, western forces and the Afghan government which are fully involved in the business in the name of war on terror.

The poppy cultivation that came to an end during Taliban period has risen to its highest level as the farmers have cultivated opium in a vast area of 477,000 acres of land in 2007, a 14 per cent increase over the previous year and total production, spurred by unusually high rainfall. Last year it was cultivated on 165,000 hectres, which is 60 per cent more than that of the previous year while Drug Enforcement Agency has the capacity to eliminate only one per cent of the production in the country. Afghanistan supplies 93 per cent of the world’s opium, the main ingredient of heroin and cultivation of poppy has reached at unprecedented level as the opium harvest jumped 34 per cent last year to an estimated 8,200 tonnes. Most of the fields of opium in Afghanistan are owned by the pro-government people specially the warlords who also control various areas and promote poppy cultivation there under the protection of US and allied forces. The US and western forces for certain reasons have given a free hand to the Afghan farmers to cultivate opium therefore turning the country into the biggest opium producer in the world.

There are also reports that the US forces are exporting drugs in collaboration with these warlords who also provide handsome money to the US forces. According to a recent report published by The New York Times, John Schewit a senior US official who had been posted in Afghanistan during the past five years as the Chief of US Anti-Narcotics Agency in an article of 12000 words has confirmed that the US forces and Afghan government have done nothing to control and stop poppy cultivation. Even the US Congress has also criticised the US AID for not providing alternative sources of income to the Afghan people. The Golden Crescent drug trade, launched by the CIA in the early 1980s, continues to be protected by US intelligence, in liaison with NATO occupation forces and the British military. In recent developments, British occupation forces have also been found involved in promoting opium cultivation through paid radio advertisements.

According to reports, the Karzai government officials have also close links with drug smugglers and the government is totally helpless before these warlords. A chain has been made for narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan and opium first product of poppy is first sent to the north of the country for its procession and then smuggled to Central Asian states from where it travels to Europe via Iran.

Afghanistan’s economy has become a criminal economy and narcotics or drug smugglers have so permeated into the Afghan society that no force can control them. The independent observers are of the view that drug business is the major component of the Afghan economy and it is being run under the umbrella of US agencies working in the country in the name of socio-economic revival but to cover their illicit activities the US agencies specially CIA is blaming ISI for helping warlords to promote terrorism there. ISI that played tremendous role in Afghan war against Soviet aggression in 90s is now under fire from the US agencies as it has become main obstacle in their way to promote drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan and now they have to adopt alternative routes for this purpose. The Afghan government and allied forces have miserably failed to control internal security situation as they are more interested in the business other than bringing normalcy in the war-torn country and blaming ISI to protect their hidden agenda and Afghanistan is a golden arrow for them due to expanding drug business that is even stronger than the oil economy.

It is matter of fact that it was the ISI that helped Taliban government to control drug business who had imposed a complete ban on poppy cultivation seven years ago and ISI shut all doors for drug smuggling from Afghanistan via Pakistan but it is not acceptable for the USA and its allied forces to control the business that provides them huge money to fulfill their hidden agenda that could not be implemented through legal resources.

Also see:

Fri, 27 Feb 2009 21:09:22 GMT

Afghanistan remains by far the largest producer of opium poppy, despite a 19 percent drop in cultivation last year, a US State Department official says.

Referencing the 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report on Friday, the US State Department’s David Johnson told reporters that after two years of record high production, opium poppy cultivation declined from 193,000 hectares (477,000 acres) in 2007 to 157,300 hectares (388,700 acres) in 2008.

The year 2007 was the second consecutive year when narcotics production in Afghanistan hit record highs, involving 14 percent of the workforce in poppy production up from 12.6 percent the previous year.

The report citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said, the fall resulted from “a combination of poor weather conditions, decreased opium prices relative to other crops, and improved governance and security in key provinces,” Associated Press quoted the report as saying.

The report notes that cultivation was largely confined to five contiguous provinces in the south of the country near the borders with Pakistan and Iran. “The connection between poppy cultivation, the resulting narcotics trade, and funding of insurgency groups became more evident in 2008,” it said.

Nearly all major cultivation now occurs in insecure areas “with active insurgent elements,” the report said adding its revenues fuel the insurgency in Afghanistan.


Clare Swinney

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