Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 19th, 2018

Opium: A Shameful Phenomenon

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Opium:  A Shameful Phenomenon

Recently, one of the friends and I were talking about challenges faced by Afghan people out of the country and how they are humiliated and discriminated on various basis. We talked much, and he shared his experiences in detail from which I found two vitally important to share with my readers, particularly Afghans. He is doing his masters in India and he has Asian face. He was telling me that when people approached him and thought that he was somewhere from China or some East Asian countries, they were so amiable and friendly. "But, generally, such gentleness does not last long at a time when I am telling about my citizenship. Most of them just leave away or talk about Mullah Omer or Osama bin Laden".

The second thing he said was about his experience in Iran, when during Taliban regime he was forced to leave and seek refuge in neighboring country. He told about several incidents when Iranians were abusing him and mocking him as an Afghani. "You are an Afghani boy, you smell opium and drugs." and then stopped him and were taking all his money in pocket and, ultimately, welcomed him by throwing several punches on his face. This, of course, might look exaggeration for those who have not left the country or have not sought refuge. For Afghan refugees there, this piece of diary-like writing looks pity and ignorable. Their pain and sufferings dwarf, perhaps, terrible experiences they had during destructive civil war in their own country.

As some of you might have noted in above paragraphs two different things in two different countries. In India, it was all about terrorism and Al-Qaeda, particularly, its assassinated leader, Osama bin Laden and, while, in Iran it was about drug, narcotic and opium. In another word, in Iran Afghan people are well-known because of drugs, while, in India, Afghan people are falsely linked to Osama ben Laden, because of his short-term settlement and launching the horrible 9/11 terror attacks from here, which shocked the world and built a notion that the headquarter of terror-networks were somewhere in Afghanistan. But why people of two different countries have different picture from Afghanistan and Afghan people.

Likely, these two different notions are linked to problems caused by these two dangerous phenomena. India has been a target of Terrorists and suffered much from activities of networks like that of Al-Qaeda. However, several attacks were launched in Iran, but what has been growing as real danger there is opium and drugs exported from its neighbor. According to unofficial statistics, addiction has crossed a million and the number is increasingly growing larger and larger. However, the government has strictly prohibited drug-usage; traffickers and smokers both are criminal according to country's ruling laws; but tangible success has not been achieved yet. Day by day, the law is getting stricter, and for those who carry few grams of drug, there is capital punishment, but still executed traffickers and carriers are replaced by new ones and drugs are exported from here across the world.

There are allegations that Iranian officials have been trying to employ a new measure to control drug trafficking: letting Afghan refugees get addicted and then force them to return to Afghanistan. However, there are no documents for the plan, but there is something noteworthy to mention. Huge numbers of Afghan refugees in Iran suffer from addiction. Even young people, whom I know very well, migrated for seeking employment to Iran during Taliban regime and during post-Taliban period Iran and has returned with addiction. In addition, the notion is further strengthened by putting a glimpse to condition of returned refugees in border province like Herat, where huge number of them walk purposelessly and engaged in small social crimes, like pick-pocketing.

As I said there are no documents for such a plan, but if there were really a plan, Tehran officials should not be blamed, because what they are doing is protecting citizen against a growing danger—addiction—which increases social crimes and destroys foundations of numerous families. Whatever helps bringing down the level of addiction among people, they would not leave undone and would apply to salvage their people.

No doubt, there are people across the world who are mad on us and telling that if there was not country like Afghanistan, their sons and daughters would have had better and dignified life. Arguing that, it is Afghanistan that produces over 90 percent of world opium. It should be noticed that these people, unfortunately, ignoring some other realities. In other word, there is not only opium or its products' addiction. There are various types of addiction, taking from alcohol to marijuana. From total world addicts, only small portion of them are addicted to opium manufacturing from Afghanistan.

It does not mean I want to justify opium cultivation and production in Afghanistan. Frequently, I have shouted that this phenomenon is destructive and a shame for country as well as for people. It should be eliminated by any possible means. Unfortunately, it is widely cultivated still, because Kabul officials are involved too and are not serious to eradicate it. Measures held till now, like distribution of improved wheat seeds and employing police force to destroy cultivated opium and etc, have not proved well. And there has also been a shameful silence from influential religious leaders and tribal heads. Here in Afghanistan, people are tight more than anything else with belt of community and religion.

If they hold Jihad and make sacrifices is largely because of religion. Religion is an absolute driving force and people would not cultivate opium if religious leaders stand seriously and clarify that opium cultivation is anti-Islam. But they have not yet, what they did was vague and folded advice from which people have got nothing of opium sin or illegality.

Jawad Rahmani is the permanent writer of Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached through jawad_rahmani2001@yahoo.com

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