A number of MPs in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on Monday said the United States and the United Kingdom are gaining billions of dollars from the drug trade in Afghanistan every year.
“NATO forces are engaged in drug smuggling during nights along with UK and the U.S. They get $110 billion USD a year while they give us only $4 billion USD in charity. Why are you killing the people of Helmand?”asked one MP Abdul Wadud Paiman.
“In most cases, our police are involved in drug smuggling, not members of parliament or other people,” said MP Fatima Nazari.
“Main smugglers are the foreigners. I have documents about [drug] smuggling in Helmand [province],” said MP Obaidullah Barekzai.
Meanwhile, the Interior Minister, Taj Mohammad Jahid, who was summoned to the house, apologized to lawmakers for controversial remarks made recently by the Interior Ministry’s deputy head of anti-narcotics department Baz Mohammad Ahmadi, in which he claimed that a number of MPs are trying to meddle in his activities.
Besides the Interior Minister, the public health and counter-narcotics ministers were summoned to Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) to inquire about the unprecedented surge in drug production in the country.
“I apologize to honorable representatives of Afghanistan. Lawmakers are the representatives of Afghans. You [MPs] are the elites among 30 million Afghans,” Jahid said.
“I apologize over my recent remarks that hurt the honorable lawmakers,” Ahmadi said.
The ministers talked about the problems before government’s counter-narcotics mission.
“There is a lack of budget. The money allocated by government in this respect is quite different from the money allocated by mafia to promote this trend,” Minister of Public Health Ferozuddin Feroz said.
“The capacity of our organization is not equivalent to the current challenges. According to statistics, more than three million people are in some way engaged in the drug trade, while we have only 2,500 personnel,” added Ahmadi.
“Security threats have had a direct role on the increasing level of poppy cultivation [in Afghanistan],” Counter-Narcotics Minister Salamat Azimi said.
The statements come a day after the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) announced that based on a new survey of UNODC this year, the total land area that has been cultivated with poppies has increased by 10 percent compared to the last year.
Andrey Avetisyan, the UNODC regional representative said on Sunday that based on their new survey, drug production in Afghanistan will surge by 43 percent.
The UN envoy said maintaining security, overcoming the endemic corruption and economic growth in the country is related to the eradication of poppy fields.
“Drugs have direct links with corruption, terrorism and development. Without tackling drug problem and elicit economy, in general, it will not be possible to solve other problems facing Afghanistan,” Avetisyan said.