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Editorial: Decoys and mules

The United States has spent nearly $7.6 billion on the counter narcotics operations in Afghanistan. But the efforts failed to rein in illicit-drugs production, smuggling and consumption. The fruitless efforts are visible from the growing number of drug addicts. The Afghan government had established rehabilitation centers for drug addicts. However, these centers are insufficient and cannot accommodate over three million addicts, including 3.5 percent women. One million of the addicts are youth. Most of them are young.  Such a complex problem of drug addiction cannot be resolved merely by establishing a few rehabilitation centers. The relevant authorities should find the root causes to deal with the challenge. There is need to review the counternarcotic efforts.

The healthy minister has collected the addicts and sent them to the rehabilitation centers in the capital city. Thus, the first shortfall is range and scope of the rehabilitation drive. The drive was not nationwide. There are thousands of drug addicts in Herat and other provinces. Herat has not received due attention of the government. Therefore, the rehabilitation campaign failed soon after it was kicked off. Second, the relevant ministry also failed to keep in view the factors that are pushing young men and women towards drug addiction. Busy people have no time for drugs. Unemployment is a major push factor. Even if the addicts were rehabilitated that would not integrate into the society because the government is unable to provide jobs to them.

Besides that, rampant corruption hampers the counter narcotics drive. Corrupt officials do not apprehend the producers and suppliers of drugs. The narcotics traders have become so bold that they are using children as mules. According to the Director General of the High Office of Anti-Corruption, Sayed Ghulam Hussien Fakhri, high-ranking government officials and influential people have appointed their relatives in state institutions that are major sources of revenues generation. He said that the top officials and powerful individuals have recruited their relatives in transportation and custom departments as well as dry ports.

With such a high-level of corruption the government cannot fight narcotics. To make the counternarcotic successful, the government must fight corruption first. Result-oriented and focus anti-narcotics drives are imperative to combat terrorism. Narcotics are also seen as a funding source by militants as highlighted by the chief executive Abdullah Abdullah last year. During his visit to the United States, the chief executive said that terrorist outfits have links with drug kingpins. There will be no end in sight to production and trafficking of narcotics unless the leaders in the halls of power put an end to corruption.

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