Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 11th, 2020

A Blow to Heroic Announcements

The fight against Taliban and the fight against corruption and opium have suffered a great imbalance. The three elements are closely related and affect each other. But Afghan government and international community's strategy on the three scourges are not enough coordinated and interlinked. We need a thorough review of the last decade performance based on which we need to adopt new strategies and adjust the current practices and policies. Economic problems have led to great increase in number of mercenaries recruited by militant networks and public discontent with government services.

The feeble government stance in public comes mainly from the crooked and inefficient administration that leads to further escalation of corruption and thus instability.

It is difficult to paint an accurate picture of Afghanistan's economy. Bulk of the economic activities, according to World Bank estimates, takes place in the informal sector, and is thus not captured by economic statistics. Of that total, a significant share relates to the cultivation of poppies and the production of opium.

Statistics provided by government ministries contradict those of the international organizations and donor agencies. Government optimistic views on successful campaign to eradicate poppy cultivation oppose figures provided by UN agencies working on the subject.

The level of poppy cultivation and drug trafficking is naively depicted in government reports. However, ground realities and the resulting outcomes put in totally another way.

To say the truth, the government of Afghanistan and its international backing allies have failed to eliminate poppy and put a stop to drug trafficking. Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries and is biggest producer of opium, the base for heroin which accounts for more than 90 percent of supply.

Opium has not remained a domestic problem for producing countries; it has turned to a global intractable nuisance. Government officials understand well that more consideration, more practical strategies and a firm political determination are required to successfully overcome this global challenge.

But less practical steps are taken. Alike any other issue, fight against opium has been maneuvered with more in talks than in practice. Following years of futile struggles to eradicate opium, the government seems incapable to appropriately cope with the problem.

Following heroic announcements by Afghan ministry of counternarcotics on poppy eradication, the new report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics says that opium poppy-crop cultivation in Afghanistan reached 131,000 hectares in 2011, 7 per cent higher than in 2010, due to insecurity and high prices.

The 2011 Afghan Opium Survey which was released 11 October by MCN and UNODC announced that opium production in Afghanistan is set to rise by nearly two-thirds this year, with farmers' revenues from the crop set to soar compared to last year's disease-hit harvest.

Other than economic and security outcomes followed by huge opium amount in Afghanistan, it has led to an increasing addiction level among afghan citizens. According to available figures, Afghanistan suffers from one of the highest rates of opiate consumption in the world with a current prevalence rate of 2.65 per cent.

In 2005, the prevalence rate of opiate use was 1.4 per cent. Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics had announced previously that around 1 million Afghans were addicted to narcotics in 2005 and that the figure was increasing day by day.

Huge amount of money is spent to prevent poppy cultivation and producing and trafficking drug. But it has clearly proved counterproductive. Bewildered by insecurity and terrorism, President Karzai administration has paid little attention to drug and has thus failed to fulfill its obligations on the subject.

International community has also failed to design and implement efficient plans to prevail over this trouble. Who else can fix the problem?