Saad Khan
Saad Khan
An award-winning international author.

Afghan Taliban and the drug dilemma

The land of Afghanistan never fails to surprise. The land that is referred to as the ‘Graveyard of empires’ is also quite popular for its opium fertility. Previously, when the country was on the verge of becoming a narcotics state, attempts were suggested by the Obama administration to put a halt on this massive drug supply, with uninterrupted routes that accounted for more than 90% of the global narcotics trade. However, what is surprising is that these suggestions were easily brushed off and were never adequately executed. The suggestions to eliminate the already massive drug empire were drafted as a plan, and according to its authors, it was a way of halting the ruinous spread of narcotics around the world. The plan was also a new and urgent approach to confronting ongoing frustrations with the Taliban, whose drug profits were financing the growing insurgency and killing American troops. But the Obama administration’s deputy chief of mission in Kabul, citing political concerns, ordered the plan to be shelved, according to the investigations conducted by an American newspaper ‘Politico’.

Today, with Afghan Taliban allegedly usurping the throne of Kabul, concerns regarding elevation in the global drug trade have substantially risen in Washington and its stooges. It is significant to understand that the Taliban’s policy todays opium harvesting has been fierce in the past and there are higher chances of that reflecting in the present Afghan regime as well. During the mid-90s, a ruthless step to bring down drug outflow from Afghanistan was taken by the then Taliban commander, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

In July 2000, when the Taliban controlled most of the country, its reclusive one-eyed leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, declared that opium was un-Islamic and imposed a ban on growing poppies.

Much to the surprise of the rest of the world, the ban worked. Afraid to cross the Taliban, Afghan farmers immediately ceased planting poppies. The United Nations estimated that poppy cultivation dropped by 90 percent from 2000 to 2001. However, despite severe concerns revolving around Afghanistan emerging as a major drug den between 2015 to 2020, nothing significant was done to curb that impeding threat despite US presence in the country. But today, with the emergence of the new Taliban regime, concerns regarding drug trade are being echoed from every corner. This global hypocrisy is the foremost reason why instability and volatility had gripped Afghanistan for more than two decades.

Tooryalai Wesa, a former governor of Kandahar province said during an interview in 2017 that when the Taliban ordered to stop poppy cultivation, Mullah Omar could enforce it with one blind eye. No one cultivated poppy after the order was passed, but today, billions of dollars came and were given to the Ministry of Counter narcotics. It actually didn’t decrease anything. The poppy even increased.

It is also a known fact that the CIA has been in bed for years with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai whose reputation was that of the ‘Pablo Escobar of Afghanistan’. The CIA had been supplying monetary and logistic support to Ahmed Wali Karzai and in return the former President’s brother controlled Kandahar for them and also ran a major drug business in the region. An article in the New Yorker states that Karzai cavorted with drug dealers, oversaw gangs of gunmen, and made deals with the very Taliban insurgents the Americans were trying to kill.

Although, with the Afghan Taliban seeking control of the country, US have now raised concerns regarding the threats of global Narcotics trade being resumed from Afghanistan, while the ICC is now probing into the alleged war crimes by Afghan Taliban and the IS-K. This hypocrisy by the western bloc has always proved exceedingly detrimental for the region. They finance and forge alliance with drug lords when it suits them and raise concern regarding the latter when it they are no longer of use to their strategic approach.

The new Taliban government has already clarified its intention towards Narcotics trade in the region. With fingers pointing towards the new Afghan government after the recent capture of drug supply in Gujrat, India, speculations are being made that the Afghan Taliban would use Narcotics trade to fill the economic gap in their country. Taliban spokesperson have repeatedly condemned Narcotics in the country and have clarified that opium harvesting will be traded in the harshest possible manner.

About the Author
Saad is a Karachi-based, award-winning, international author.
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