Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 21st, 2018

Counter-narcotics Struggle

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Counter-narcotics Struggle

Recently, a trilateral meeting was held in Kabul over combating drug-trafficking among Tehran, Islamabad and Kabul officials. All these three countries are the principle victims of opium cultivation, processing and drug-trafficking. Though all delegates counted about their respective effort and resolution to control trafficking, I did not find something to increase the optimism. More than millions of people are addicted in these countries, and Afghanistan is entirely blamed for the phenomenon.

There is no doubt that Afghanistan is on top list of opium producers, but all countries, including our neighbors, can be blamed. Opium is not the only drug that takes lives of thousands of people; rather there are chemical drugs which are far more dangerous.

But, here is a question: "Why years of counter-narcotic efforts have not ended into intended results?" There were signs that poppy cultivation decreased in Afghanistan, but the recent data shows that decline in poppy cultivation was not the result of Kabul government and its international allies counter-narcotic struggle, instead it was due to price-fluctuation.

Many maintain that drug trafficking and opium cultivation are providing fuels for Taliban-led insurgencies. No doubt, they are right. But all issues are not only concluded to opium cultivation. Narcotic, in general, is one of the factors which provide fuel for vicious establishment of Taliban and its Al-Qaeda ally, however, the major one.

Perhaps, elimination of narcotics might not cause the extinction of Taliban roots from Afghan soil, but it certainly would be a major financial blow to militants' empty budget box. It also should be noted down that a safe and peaceful Afghanistan will remain an illusion if opium production is not completely eradicated.

This vicious phenomenon is not just fuelling militancy in the country but also adding many vices to Afghan people and Afghanistan. Many times, I really become amazed how some mistake remains as a constant indignity to the skirt of some that cannot be removed easily: and how something can have the potential to undermine all historic pride of an individual or even a nation.

And more unfortunate, how the invisible hands are yielding and accumulating giant profits from an undignified toiling of some one else? The international "attitude court" is not able to indentifying those invisible actors and rule against that miser committer of the action.

Presently, we are facing similar situation. I am not really trying to vindicate the activities of those people who are engaged in cultivating and growing opium. What I am trying to say is "poppy cultivation" actually gives no profit to miser Afghan farmers. Just go to suburban areas of Helmand Province, and witness how much the life conditions have changed.

These regions are soils which have set the country as the first largest producer of opium. But the life condition is pathetic. People here are wrangling with life and death. Their biggest desire is a filled-stomach one day.

They hardly try to provide the essential goods for their family members, like clothing, shelter and food, but unfortunately they are not able to do so. Meanwhile, global Media is pointing finger towards Afghan citizens, everywhere they go, a separate body check-up is held for them, which is really terrible!

I am also in view that strategy of Afghan government and international community has been totally inefficient, in comparison to amounts of cash they pumped to provinces like Helmand and struggles they made. There are actually four measures that were whether completely out of strategic framework of government for holding an anti-poppy campaign or lesser efforts were made to make them succeed.

To end cultivation, we need to take measures which would help in lessening and eliminating markets for supply of narcotics as well as seal off the route through which drugs are exported. No doubt, demand would always be there and we cannot do any thing with that.

What Afghan government and its international allies could do during past years was to engage neighboring countries through diplomatic bargaining or pressures. A joint effort by neighboring countries, from where trafficking is carried out can undermine drug production.

A major portion of trafficking is made through borders of Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan itself has become famous as a weak state, and it is in need of assistance of international community. Iran has a large border with Afghanistan.

I do not forget once an Iranian official was complaining about measures of Afghan government regarding border control. He was saying that larger portion of Afghan border actually had even no individual police to oversee.

I accept the allegation and the assumption is right. But something should be noticed by our neighboring brothers; Afghan government is established only few years ago and does not have the potential to hold all responsibilities.

Tehran itself spends huge sum of money on dealing with drug trafficking, and addiction has become a dangerous phenomenon that has threatened the society there too, like Afghanistan. But the measure is wrong.

What Iranian security forces are doing is hanging, execution, persecution and back-breaking financial penalty for those who are found guilty of carrying only a gram of narcotic. As the experience shows, the measures only defamed the country and ranked it top on execution, but actually could not control drug use.

Unfortunately, the regime is only intensifying those measures and bringing the execution into staggering number. Hanging is not going to help and all data regarding level of crime showcase that it does not differ in two countries with similar conditions but different in case of capital punishment.

Therefore, I am sure hanging is not going to bring down addiction in Iran, if it does not reassess it. My suggestion for countries like Iran is sealing the borders. The amount of money it spends for controlling drug-circulation inside the country, if used for sealing the border, is far more effective. Moreover, it will discourage traffickers inside Afghanistan, and ultimately will decrease the level of cultivation in Afghanistan, too.

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

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