Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

Time for Serious Action

Afghanistan is on the top among the countries producing narcotics and influenced by it. Years of instability and war have incapacitated the attentions to be diverted towards this evil and at the same time wars and instability have strengthened the networks that both produce it and smuggle it. Moreover, the tension and pathetic standard of life, have made the people in Afghanistan among the top users of the different sorts of drugs as well.
Afghanistan requires an urgent and effective strategy to deal with this problem, if it is really serious in putting an end to it. The government authorities in this regard need to take the most important step. Without them taking serious measures, it is difficult to expect others to do it.
Recently, Counter-narcotics Minister, Salamat Azizi, has mentioned that her ministry is working on a plan aimed at creating cooperation to eliminate the scourge of narcotics in northern Balkh province. The ministry had also devised a five-year program named “Action” for elimination of narcotics nationwide.
She said the Action is also supported by the international community and would continue until 2019. The program has three objectives --- implementation of law on all people, fighting against drug workers and providing alternative income sources to farmers.
A comprehensive strategy is definitely vital in this regard; however, more important is to follow the strategy. Any plan that is only in the papers and does get acted upon is useless. Unless tangible measures are taken, promises alone would not do any magic and would not be helpful at all. Previously as well there have been many promises by authorities regarding controlling the production, the smuggling and the use of drugs but no effective action has been taken so far.   
We should be alarmed by the fact that the poppy cultivation and its smuggling are linked with the networks of organized crime in the country that further extends to international mafia and drug dealing and they have their strong backers in the international drug market and national authorities who appear to be guardians of the nation. But one of the most alarming and unfortunate facts is that they have their links with the terrorist networks in the country. The growing insurgency and expanding networks of terrorism suggest that the terrorists have strong financial support from drugs. This situation is really very much intimidating. This is going to devastate the lives of the people of Afghanistan in various ways and unfortunately no break in it seems very much likely – at least not in near future as the statistics show that there has been and there will be increase in the opium production in the country if not handled properly.
The situation would not be difficult to handle if it was limited only to farmers but the fact is that the farmers are not alone to benefit from the rising prices and the rise in production; rather farmers take a negligible part of it while most of the income goes to the networks that manage its filthy business. And it is not concealed from knowing minds that the terrorist networks have a lion’s share in such income. So, it means that with the growth in the production of opium, there will be considerable increase in insurgency from the terrorist networks that are already in the process of gaining strength. Moreover, it has also been observed that the cultivations mostly take place in the areas where Taliban seem to have more control. It is believed that most of the cultivation is concentrated in southern Afghan provinces, and heartland of the Taliban-led insurgency, where the government does not seem to have much control.
Unfortunately, the measures that have been carried out to counter the growth of this menace have not been comprehensive and serious. It is even believed that the important figures are involved in backing this business that should, otherwise, have the responsibility to counter them. And the growing corruption and negligence of responsibility in the country does not let the government notice such realities.

So, the menace of poppy cultivation is determined to influence the country in various ways. It, on one side, is making drugs available to a large number of people, who are both intentionally and unintentionally becoming addict to it and becoming responsible for giving birth to different social problems. On the other hand, it is providing the fuel for insurgency as it is bound to benefit the terrorist networks in the country that largely depend on such sources of income after losing support from elsewhere. Government authorities in this regard have to get very much serious and try to take concrete steps to make sure that the production is reduced to a considerable extent. Destroying the crops is one of the most practical steps at the present scenario and can to a very great extent discourage the poppy cultivation but it has certain complexities with itself. For the long-lasting solution it is preferable that the government must try to facilitate the farmers and landowners the opportunity of growing alternate crops. Moreover, corruption, in this regard, must not be tolerated in any condition.