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Editorial: Narco-trade

Despite millions of US dollars in aid, both the government and foreign forces failed to fight drugs. There are scores of groups involved in smuggling and selling of narcotics. Increase in sale of drugs is evident from the drop in prices of opium. The narco-trade is at peak. Farmers in the opium producing provinces of Afghanistan enjoy full support of the Taliban. However, the international community failed to help Afghan forces to track and bust the major networks that are not only paralyzing the talented brain but also funding insurgents. The number of the drug addicts is also on the rise in the war-hit country.

Alternative livelihood programs in southern provinces of the country failed to replace poppy. In some provinces such as Helmand, Zabul, Kandahar and Nimroz the alternative programs are just on papers because officials could not visit these parts of the country without fear. Law and order is very fragile. The Taliban have presence in several districts there. The ongoing fight between Afghan security forces and the insurgents in Helmand province prove that the government’s writ is limited only to key buildings in the provincial capitals. When the government officials cannot go outside of their highly barricaded offices and homes then how can they address the issue? It is a bitter truth—hard for many to digest.

However, their mad reaction will change nothing. Only carefully deliberated actions and comprehensive short-term and long-term policies could help to nip the evil in the bud. Mere making promises to divert public attention or befool the nation would embolden the insurgents and drug rings further. Farmers in the country want to grow alternative crops but they are not allowed. Militants have strong presence and say in the poppy growing areas. They are not only providing protection to the poppy growers but also resolve their minor disputes within no time. They also provide financial support to the farmers.

Insurgent groups are working as a bridge between the farmers and drug mafia to boost the narco-trade so they could fund their subversive activities. Arrest of a drug kingpin, Juma Khan, is celebrated by the counter-narcotics police at such a time when the Taliban are making millions from this illicit trade. Juma Khan was funding insurgency in the country. He was arrested in Sherzad district of eastern Nangarhar province on August 2. However, the arrest report was made public today (Wednesday). A single arrest of this level would not accelerate the war against narcotics.

To emerge victorious in the war against militancy and terrorism, the government must eliminate funding sources to the extremist groups. Without support of the international community and a clear strategy it would not be possible. Drug trafficking is a major financial source for insurgents. Therefore, the Afghan policymakers should first chalk out a plan to convince the major donor countries that they would win the anti-drugs war.

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