Over past few years, government of Afghanistan has oscillated from isolation and faux pas to debacle, and back – with its popularity at lowest ebb. Issues that haunt and magnify government’s default fall in sphere of governance, war, insecurity, political instability and corruption.
Aside from the armed opposition and elusive peace haunting the country, the issue of continued large-scale Afghan poppy cultivation and opium production further complicates the matters. It has boosted the drug business and led to a tangled knot, making it difficult for the Afghan establishment to extricate itself from these interrelated predicaments. A recent statement by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said output of opium stood at around 6,700 metric tons last year compared to 5,500 metric tons in 2018 – signifying a 21 rise despite the fact that areas under poppy cultivation declined by 28 percent. Meanwhile, favorable weather and harvesting conditions were cited as the direct reasons for the increase in production. Among many hurdles emanating from the lucrative opium production is the dampening of the Afghan government’s ability to maintain the rule of law and promote good governance. Besides, the drug revenue generated by insurgents prolongs insecurity and fuels corruption. The narcotics business is rooted to an extent in the Afghan government machinery that a drug kingpin serving in the capacity as Kabul’s counter-narcotics head for seven was arrested a few days back along with his five accomplices on drug smuggling charges. It’s shameful that crimes are being committed by those who are supposed to prevent them and right under the nose of law enforcement agencies. The government always postures stiff stance and launches large sting operations against narcotics smugglers while, in fact, its own employees have been indulging in the illicit trade for years. The government should realize that it’s not just one case; there are multiple other quarters within the government, as well as strongmen who enjoy links with drug mafia and are filling their pockets. Meanwhile, as long as the opium production thrives in Afghanistan – mostly in Taliban-controlled territories – this menace would continue bedeviling Afghans and complicate matters for good governance as it directly contributes to administrative corruption. Also, a by-product of drug business is the financing of insurgents, who would refuse to make peace with the government as long as they are fully-funded and have no difficulty in continuing violence, thus rendering peace in Afghanistan a distant dream.