US Department of State says in one of its recent reports regarding drug trafficking in the Central Asian States, “The Central Asian states that border Afghanistan are facing a significant threat from illicit narcotic drugs transiting from Afghanistan. Violent extremist groups from Afghanistan and Pakistan threaten stability in the region, with drug trafficking providing a significant source of their funding. The United States Government is committed to partnering with Central Asia to counter these threats.” To put a check on drug-trafficking the US authorities have introduced a programme with the title ‘The Central Asia Counter-narcotics Initiative CACI’. The basic objective behind this programme is to promote regional cooperation in countering drug trafficking by setting up task forces in all five Central Asian countries and hooking them up with similar task force in

Afghanistan and Russia. A spokeswoman for the US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said commenting the CACI programme that US would continue bilateral consultations with the Central Asian states to make this programme successful. But Russia has expressed her own apprehensions and reservation regarding the CACI programme and has asked its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization CSTO neither to participate nor to cooperate in the US counter-drug programme in Central Asia. The Russian authorities are of the opinion that this programme would provide more probabilities to the USA to interfere into the affairs of the regional countries. Russia is convinced that the main objective of this initiative is strengthening the military and political presence in a region that Moscow regards as its area of special interests. The Russian hi-ups are very much true in their fears and apprehensions regarding the working of proposed CACI in the Central Asian Region. If the CACI programme gets started, the US task forces shall no doubt have very wide powers and above all a full access to secret operational information supplied to law enforcement agencies and intelligence services of the Central Asia countries. US would be in a stronger position to gather sensitive information and then use the data to exploit and blackmail the governments in the region. In other words the CACI programme would prove itself another successful attempt of weakening the Central Asian region in near future. If USA is really sincere in its desire to put a check on drug-trafficking, it must begin with Afghanistan which has simply become a hub of all production, trade and use of narcotics particularly in the last three decades. A former commander during the USSR's operations in Afghanistan in 2009 General Mahmut Gareev once said in a statement that the US is not going to stop the production of drugs in Afghanistan as it covers the costs of their military presence there. This statement must also be an eye-opener to the planners of the Central Asia Counter-narcotics Initiative programme.

PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER,

Multan, March 1.