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Blackwater and drug production

Much of ex-President Hamid Karzai’s tenure was fraught with tensions. He was seen in diatribe against American policies. Most of the times, he was rebuked in western corporate media. And at times he was painted an astute leader. He was in battle with Americans over the long sought ban on international private security firms and mercenaries. Way back in 2005, when Hamid Karzai vowed crackdown on warlords in Afghanistan and said onward there will be no private militia forces in Afghanistan, international private security companies survived well beyond 2009. Today the same western media say that opium cultivation is up in Afghanistan despite the infamous security firm formerly known as “Blackwater” received a quite liberal sum of $569 million from the Pentagon to stop it, but failed in curbing poppy cultivation. Even if someone starts walking the trail back to reach those tumultuous days, it’s not much troublesome to find that why did Karzai want to see private mercenaries ceased. When the United States had victory in sight, it brought the Taliban back from the dead. And it started when the private mercenaries started paying the warlords and Taliban insurgents. Larger swathes were ceded to the Taliban particularly in the South where the Taliban encouraged people to cultivate poppy. Statistics made available for public access on Tuesday, say that the renomenclatured private security company, known since 2011 as Academi, reaped more than half a billion dollars from the unproductive campaign of the US Defense Department to eradicate narcotics, some 32 percent of the $1.8 billion contracting money the Pentagon has earmarked to the push since 2002. The security firm is the biggest ever beneficiary of counternarcotics coffer in Afghanistan. And even despite that poppy cultivation has increased manifold. Its arch competitor, Northrop Grumman, claimed $250 million. When the US Defense Department’s anti-narcotic push flatly failed, it was Afghanistan that earned the name of narco-state and it was Karzai’s government that bore the brunt. Karzai, repeatedly, attempted to tell the nation and the world that corruption was not initiated by Afghans but by Americans, but who cares. The result is now poppy cultivation has reached a record level this year. Back in 2014, a UN report on narcotics showed a consistent rise in opium cultivation. Helmand province remains a top opium cultivating province. The drug money keeps financing Taliban’s insurgency. Even, well educated people attracted to poppy production. Instead of serving in the government, they made a fast buck through this illicit trade. When others saw their rollercoaster ride within no time, even some bigwigs from the government ranks got into this illicit trade. All that happened from cultivating opium to manufacturing drugs, caused irreparable damages to Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation didn’t remain confine to Helmand only. It spread to Kandahar. It affected western Farah province as well. Its contagious effects were even felt in southwestern Nimroz. And gradually narcotics did what the Taliban insurgents couldn’t. Since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, 74,000 hectares of land was being used to grow opium in 2002 while after the passage of 12 years opium was cultivated on about 224,000 hectares of land in 2014.

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