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Bootie of natural riches; Insurgents earns $46m from illegal mining to continue war in Afghanistan: Survey

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: Afghanistan Anti-Corruption Network (AACN) on Wednesday released a report revealing that armed insurgents including Taliban militants and Islamic State (IS), aka, Daesh terrorists are being beefed by illegally digging mines.

A survey conducted by the AACN showed that insurgents gained $46 million through illegal extraction of minerals and its export only in Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province in 2016.The survey assessed illegal extraction of minerals in Nangarhar province, particularly Khogyani district.

According to the survey, National Unity Government (NUG) in 2015 showed strong commitment to ban illegal mining and its export, but still illegally and unskillfully mineral extractions are continue in different parts of Afghanistan.

“Mafia, irresponsible armed groups, including Taliban and Daesh militants are behind business of illegal extractions. These groups are exporting minerals to the neighboring countries illegally,” the reported added.

“Survey finding demonstrated that armed militants including Taliban and Daesh militant outfits have gained $46 million only from illegal mining of talc stone in Khogyani district of the province,” Head of AACN, Khan Zaman Amarkhil said.

He added that armed groups are earning millions of dollars through illegal mining contracts. These group renting mine areas under their control to contractors and in return gets taxes from them.

He said that illegal and unskillful extractions of talc stones have negative impact over all mineral resources at the future.

“Every day 500 trucks, each of them carrying about 45 tons of talc stones are crossing Torkham gate, and from Pakistan these minerals shipping to the European markets,” he said.

“Some provincial officials are also involve in illegal extractions,” he said without elaborating further.

The survey added that despite the government banned extractions and export of talc stone in Nangarhar, but the mafia had exported 750,000 tons of talc, giving no care on imposed ban.

Report furthered, illegal extraction and exporting of minerals have affected governance and security situation in different part of Afghanistan. This trend have fostered the anti-government elements and weakened the rule of law nationwide.

“If illegal extraction of minerals were not prevented, Afghanistan would witness mounting of insecurity and plundering of more mines across the country, the report mentioned.

Another member of AACN, Zabihullah Wardak came hard on the government over its negligence to control illegal extraction of minerals by mafia and militants across the country.

He said that illegal extraction and export of minerals are on card in different parts of Badakhshan, Khost, Logar, Wardak, Smanagan, Panjshir and Kabul provinces.

As insecurity is getting serious within different areas of the country, it challenge the writ of the government and its control. Without no doubt, mineral resource in the country are abundant and can play a key role in improving the already fragile economy.

Recently Badakhshan’s mining and petroleum department highlighted the illegal extraction of gold and lapis lazuli by insurgents in the province. Officials said that insurgents speed up the extraction of gold from mines in Raghistan district, and lapis in Karan-o-Manjan districts.

The government should take a bold step as Taliban and militant outfits are using mining money to finance and equip themselves against security forces.

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