Elimination of opium production is a long and complex challenge in Afghanistan. A report on continued opium production in Afghanistan and West’s investment underhand is “the ugly truth behind the international opium policy”. Now that democratic government is functioning in Kabul, the world has opened its eyes to solving the narcotic problem, many international forces are present in Afghanistan, but no effective action has been taken so far to stop the opium production and trade.

In the last two decades, Afghanistan has provided more than 90 percent 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 Taliban to protect their opium crops. The UN says only about 10 percent of total opium profits go to farmers and 20 percent 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 aircrafts at night and by the assistance of the Department of Defense they were committing narcotic 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, February 19.