Sunday, December 17

Why The Drug Trade in Afghanistan Cannot be Eliminated Immediately

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Afghanistan has just faced a bad war in 2001 which is pretty recent. Afghanistan has just had a major overhaul of its government. It is a free and democratic country now. Even though Afghanistan is being protected by the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) within its borders, it is a very unsafe country. There are terrorist elements that are spread all around the country. The Taliban, which was ousted in the NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, is strengthening itself by the day and is preparing to overthrow the government.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Everyday, we hear of bombings in Afghanistan. There are IED explosions, car bombs, ambushes, fidayeen attacks and a lot more. And the attacks are rising by the day. This shows that the Taliban is gaining more and more power. They obviously want the ISAF to be out from Afghanistan and they are doing whatever it is in their power to remove the democratic government in Kabul and establish their old Islamic regime.

The biggest source of income for Afghanistan is opium. For terrorist groups and the Taliban, the drug trade is too valuable. They sell drugs in exchange for cash, weapons, training, explosives and any other allied activity for which they require to do some payments.

Many find it shocking that even though the NATO has been stationed in Afghanistan for the past 9 years, it has still not been able to destroy the opium that is produced in Afghanistan. Terrorists still have access to money and they are able to conduct more and more attacks and undermine the security of Afghanistan.

Image via Wikipedia

You don’t need to do a very detailed survey to know about the sheer scale of the opium that is being grown in Afghanistan. If you travel through remote regions of Afghanistan, you will find a lot of poppy fields and that seems like a real contrast after looking at the rugged terrain and geography of Afghanistan.

Afghan farmers find growing opium and other narcotics profitable. They don’t even have to export it as there is a great demand for opium in Afghanistan itself. Not only is growing opium profitable for Afghan farmers, it is also easy to grow them in the rugged terrain of Afghanistan.

Countries, case in point, Russia has been demanding the NATO to take some action regarding the narcotics problem of Afghanistan. Russia is concerned about the volume of drugs that flow into Russia from Afghanistan. It is concerned about it being a transit point for drugs and also concerned about its population being addicted to drugs coming from Afghanistan.

The NATO on its part, is trying to eliminate the drugs, but it does face a problem. The NATO knows that it can eliminate the drug trade in Afghanistan. It has the capability, it has the information, all it needs is a “go”. But the NATO is purposely NOT destroying the opium and their reasons are quite understandable.

The opium is the main source of income for Afghanistan. If that is wiped out, then thousands of farmers will be left penniless and unemployed. The NATO cannot provide jobs for them that easily nor can it help grow new crops that fast. The scale is too large for NATO.

Afghanistan literally lives on this opium. Though it is the goal of most countries to completely eliminate drugs from their country, the NATO cannot do that in Afghanistan because most of the population consumes these drugs and the current rate of rehabilitation is not able to sustain enough people. If the supply is hit, then many will suffer. The recession from drugs will take time. The NATO won’t be ready for the number of people who will be waiting to be rehabilitated after their supply has been hit.

Eliminating drugs in Afghanistan is actually linked to a chain of problems. It requires that the country itself progress higher and be able to stand on its feet. It requires that security be guaranteed in Afghanistan, good infrastructure be put into place, power production capabilities be expanded and upgraded and the fixing of all socio-economic problems that plague Afghanistan.

Image via Wikipedia

Eliminating the production of drugs can happen by encouraging farmers to grow other crops. The government should provide equipment, seeds, fertilizers and technical information so that these farmers will be encouraged to grow other crops apart from opium.

The government must launch extensive campaigns to denounce the use of opium. It should start off by somehow increasing the prices of drugs sold inside Afghanistan. Making it expensive will reduce the demand, that is simple economics. The more expensive it is, the lesser people will buy. What the government should also have is a contingency plan for the rehabilitation of drug addicts. Rehabilitation centres need to be set up and more staff needs to be employed.

The government must increase the monitoring on the outflow of drugs from the country. The least it can do is prevent drugs from flowing out and wrecking the people of other countries. Localized damage can be contained, when it gets international, then things become harder to control.

Total elimination of drugs in Afghanistan is going to take a really long time to happen. It is simply not possible for drugs to be eliminated as of now. It is vital that we give Afghanistan some time to change. Change should be long term and must be there to stay. Drugs is a serious problem all over the world and not just Afghanistan. Hopefully, in a few years, by which I mean say 10-15 years, we can have a drug-free Afghanistan.

The Condition of Afghanistan Today

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