Officials of the Helmand provincial council and a senator in the Meshrano Jirga (Upper House of Parliament) said Sunday that the fighting in Helmand has temporarily decreased because Taliban fighters are too busy producing and smuggling drugs in the province.
The officials said it was now the time for stepped-up action by security forces against the Taliban. They complained that security forces were not being pro-active and were only taking action when attacked by the insurgents.
“When Taliban reduce their attacks, they are collecting arms and weapons. They sell drugs during this season and buy weapons to prepare for a later intensified war against Afghan security forces,” said Senator Hashem Alokozay.
“Afghan security forces are dormant and take no action against the Taliban unless they (the government forces) are attacked. Helmand residents are being sacrificed in this conflict,” he added.
The Counter Narcotics Ministry has confirmed that drug prices were increasing.
“There was 48 percent drop in the production of drugs last year, but there was a 48 percent increase in drug prices in the same year (2015) compared to 2014. This year alone the drug prices have been increased by 15 percent. This makes anti-drugs campaign all the more difficult,” said Hanif Danishyar, spokesman for Ministry of Counter Narcotics.
The Interior Ministry said the drugs business is one of the main reasons for the war in Helmand.
“Most of their [Taliban’s] attacks are to pave the way for drugs production and smuggling [in Helmand]. They [Taliban] are not inactive,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.
According to reports, poppy was being cultivated in 20 provinces this year. Farah and Nimroz were among the provinces where the illegal drug business has been reduced this year.