Afghanistan, the Poppy and the West

Today, 13th November 2013, THE GUARDIAN: “Afghanistan’s poppy farmers plant record opium crop, UN report says. Despite 10 years of western efforts to curb production, a combination of economics and political instability means farmers in the world’s largest heroin-producing country are as enthusiastic as ever for the poppy” READ the full article on The Guardian

Below an extract from KASH KIDNAPPED book:

Kash Kidnapped, a revealing journey to Afghanistan

“Old road sign from Kandahar Drug Control Unit (KDCCU) reminds everyone that – also in Kabul – the abuse of drugs is forbidden in Islam.

The sign carried the signature in the Pashtun language (painted out in blue) of the Anti Narcotics Department from the time of the Taliban Government. Actually, during that regime, the Mullah Omar Edict was in force: this decree categorically forbade the cultivation and/or use of opium. Reports published by the UN between 2000 and 2001 acknowledged the role of the Taliban in eradicating over 75% of production and cultivation of opium.

In 2007 the NATO Forces publicly encouraged and sustained the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan through advertising messages on local radio in Helmand.

The announcement, conceived and paid for by NATO communicated that: ‘The soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are in the Helmand Region to restore security and to kill the foreign rebels. The ISAF soldiers will not eradicate the opium plantations because they realize that it’s the only source of income for the majority of Afghans.’

According to a report from Alastair Leithead, correspondent from BBC News published on 24 April 2007, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Kabul Director, Christina Oguz, criticized the NATO initiative:

‘Isn’t it an uncertain message? A dubious one? There is a strong relationship between the rebels and the drugs traffickers. I fear that could confuse the cultivators and I believe that it’s not a good message for all those who have an important role in the drugs trafficking.’

The Afghan Government declared that it had not been informed about this campaign and that NATO had apologised for having aired it on the radio.

In the same BBC report, a spokesman from ISAF declared that there was nothing new in what had happened because the ISAF military forces were in Afghanistan only to take care of security and everything to do with opium was the Afghan Government’s responsibility.

Nowadays Helmand is the Afghan region where the most opium is cultivated.

In the report named Drug Addiction, Crime and Insurrection – The transnational threat of Afghan opium, published by the UNODC in 2009, the Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, highlights that, from 2002 to 2008, opium generated a billion US dollars every year to the Afghan growers while in the global market it generated 65 billion US dollars every year.

‘We get 3% of the revenues and 100% of the faults’, President Karzai pointed out to Costa.

From the 65 billion US dollars (totalling to around 500 billion in seven years) five to ten per cent is recycled by the banking system in an informal way. The remainder is recycled through regular commercial activities (also including legal goods smuggling) and the banking system.

From 2005 to 2008, the Taliban in Afghanistan annually received around 150 million US dollars from the opium growers and traffickers (a total of up to 600 million in four years).

Every year around 3,500 tons of Afghan opium is exported to the rest of the world through a network of one million traffickers who, in turn, distribute it to around 16 million people – of whom 100,000 die every year.

Afghanistan is the producer of 90% of the entire world opium market and, despite this, only two per cent of the product is confiscated from the local and/or international authorities.

In the 2009 World Drug Report, Antonio Maria Costa wrote: At a time of major bank failures, money doesn’t smell, bankers seem to believe.

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