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In wrong hands

Afghanistan is passing through critical juncture. Friends are rare and a few but enemies are in abundance and very close. Perhaps, it is the most difficult for Afghans to stay together, united and in peace. National unity is under attack. Stability and peace are distant dreams because some of our neighbors see Afghanistan as a good ground for proxy war. The ugly truth about the proxy war is that it does not claim lives of the warring parties but of those where it is fought. There is no denying to it. Afghans are seeing proxy wars since times immemorial. Challenges are many. However, through homemade solutions we can resolve most of these problems.

One of such serious problems is the illegal extraction of gold and lapis lazuli at large-scale in Badakhshan province. Provincial officials have confirmed that militants and armed groups, controlled by yet to be identified influential people, are involved in illegal mining of gold and lapis lazuli. Both have high demand in regional and international markets. Pakistan is the base from where precious and semi-precious gemstones of Afghanistan are exported. The blood stones are funding insurgency in Afghanistan but the neighboring country is reluctant to stop smugglers or customers from buying these gemstones. The international community has utterly failed to help Afghan government to stop the armed groups and insurgents from extracting the mines. The global community also failed to impose sanctions on those who sell these blood gemstones.

Mining department’s director in the province, Mohammad Akbar Anwari, said on Wednesday that terrorists and armed people are plundering lapis lazuli and gold mines in Karan-o-Manjan and Raghistan districts. He expressed serious concerns over illegal extraction of the natural riches. Police officials also confirmed that militants are active in these two districts of the province. The officials claimed to launch a comprehensive operation against the miscreants soon.

Insurgents now have a good source of income to fund terror activities in the country. The problem is very serious but the central and provincial governments have failed to address it. Inattention towards such an important issue proves incapability of our leaders.  It is not the first time that officials are expressing mere concerns and do not take practical steps. The natural riches shall not be in the wrong hands.

Last year in June, the ministries of interior and mines showed concerns over growing insecurity in Badakhshan. Spokesmen of the ministries told media that militants and influential people were extracting lapis lazuli and gold. It has been several months but the interior ministry did not take action against all those who are involved in the illegal mining. Moreover, the government also failed to identify the groups that are controlled by influential people. The relevant authorities should make names of those public who run these groups.

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