Members of the Badakhshan provincial council said the smuggling of lapis lazuli and illegal extraction of the semi-precious stone in the province is the main revenue source for anti-government militants in the area.
Badakhshan provincial council member Abdullah Naji told TOLOnews that lapis extraction was banned by government last year but it has increased recently in the province.
“Afghan President (Ashraf Ghani) issued a decree last year where he banned the illegal extraction of lapis in Badakhshan. Meanwhile, this illegal business is (also) going on in Panjshir province. This should be banned in other provinces as well. Government should pay attention to this matter,” Naji added.
“Militants have a higher hand in illegal extraction of lapis in Badakhshan. They buy weapons from that money and fight against government,” said Saifuddin Sayes, head of Badakhshan’s civil society.
Meanwhile, a number of Badakhshan residents also said illegal mining has increased in the province.
“Government does not have the will to prevent illegal mining. The mines are extracted with the help of Taliban as they are in insecure areas and they opt for illegal mining. Badakhshan will fall to militants if government does not pay attention to its security,” said Jahid, a resident of Faizabad city in Badakhshan.
TOLOnews’ reporter, Nematullah Ahmadi, tried to get comment from officials from Badakhshan police headquarters but they would not answer questions.