Local officials in Badakhshan said Saturday that a ‘special unit’ will be formed in a bid to stop illegal mining in the province – particularly the illicit extraction of lapis lazuli.
“During my visit to Kabul, I talked with President Ashraf Ghani about the increase in illegal extraction of lapis lazuli by powerful figures [in Badakhshan]. He [the president] decided to establish a special unit in order to ensure the security of Badakhshan’s mines,” Badakhshan governor Faisal Begzad said.
Meanwhile, the provincial council of Badakhshan welcomed the move by government and said Afghanistan will soon become a self-reliant country if its mineral resources are used legally.
“The decision by President Ghani is appreciated. This will help improve the country’s economy and it will weaken the economic roots of terrorists in the province,” said Talat, a member of Badakhshan’s provincial council.
Badakhshan residents meanwhile said they doubt the president’s decision will not be implemented in the near future, but in future the mining industry will drive the country’s economy towards development.
“Badakhshan’s lapis lazuli mines form half of Afghanistan’s mineral resources. If this decision is implemented, Afghanistan will be a self-sufficient country in the near future,” said civil society activist Seddiq Lalzada.
“Our demand from President Ghani is that he should make this happen and he should not let powerful men use mines for their own benefit,” said Sherzad, a civil society activist in Badakhshan.
This comes after a recent study found that illegal extraction of about 10 types of precious and semi-precious stones still continues in eight provinces in Afghanistan.
These stones are smuggled first to Pakistan and then they are sent on to international markets, the report said.
According to the report, by a reputable organization that asked not to be named, lapis lazuli is mined illegally in Kiran Manjan district in Badakhshan and then it is smuggled to Pakistan.