Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter-Narcotics said Saturday that drug production and trafficking are a key source of financing terrorism and insurgency in the country, calling for a wider military campaign to eradicate poppy fields.
The statement comes as the opium sapping process starts in various regions of the country where opium is cultivated particularly in Helmand province, a hub of drug production and smuggling in southern Afghanistan.
According to the ministry of counter-narcotics, the government so far has failed to overcome the issue of drug production and smuggling in the country, terming security threats and the rising scale of wars as two important aspects of the failure.
“Security threats are the biggest challenges, because the security forces are busy with war and it has undermined our programs for fighting opium production and eradicating the poppy fields,” said Hanif Danishyar, a spokesman for the ministry of counter narcotics.
“Drugs are a funding source of terrorism. With this they (insurgents) can disrupt the stability of any region they want. They (insurgents) also force people to cultivate opium so that they can finance part of their war expenditures,” Abdul Khalil Bakhtyar, head of the police anti-drug operation department at MoCN said.
Meanwhile, critics have slammed government’s counter-drug policy.
“The government must take action and eliminate poppy fields before the opium sapping programs end so that the Taliban are not able to use the money,” political analyst Baz Mohammad Anwari said.
It is believed that double the number of people involved in drug smuggling have been arrested this year compared to a year earlier.
“39 cases have been dispatched to the preliminary courts, 43 in appeal court and 33 others to the supreme court and are in the final stages,” said Khalid Mauhid, spokesman for the Counter-Narcotics Justice Center.
But with the increase in drug production and smuggling, security threats have sharply increased and drug production has also restarted in some areas of northern Balkh province.