Is Afghanistan the Drug’istan for Nato?

Afghanistan's yearly opium output accounts for more than 90 per cent of the global supply. Photo Courtesy: Express Tribune

Afghanistan's yearly opium output accounts for more than 90 per cent of the global supply. Photo Courtesy: Express Tribune

Published at Express Tribune Blog

The heavy cultivation of opium in Afghanistan is known to all of us. The pertinent question then is: why has Nato been unable to control this opium cultivation in the nine years of its occupation?

According to a recent article on TIME titled “Is NATO to Blame for Russia’s Afghan Heroin Problem?” Russia has lambasted the US and NATO for not doing more to stop little baggies of heroin from getting into the hands of Russia’s youth.

Russia further alleged that “NATO has fueled drug production by refusing to destroy Afghan poppy fields, which it stopped doing last year in the hope of winning the support of opium farmers.”

“In its way, Russia is making an important point. Between 2005 and 2009, Afghanistan’s yearly opium output jumped from 4,000 to 7,000 tons, and it now accounts for more than 90% of global supply, according to the United Nations. Russian state statistics say that opiates such as heroin and morphine kill around 30,000 Russians every year, three times more than the total number of Soviets killed during their 10-year war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.”

But the question stays the same: who will control this illicit drug cultivation and its trafficking and how will it be coped? Will the US led Nato forces and CIA will slash down the opium cultivation? Seriously?

Hordes of news reports regarding the Afghan opium cultivation have been highlighted on the media lately. Nearly all of them blame US led Nato for not doing enough to undermine the opium cultivation. Of late, a report in the New York Times surfaced. It said:

“Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Ahmed Karzai, however, denied this news, saying that “he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the CIA.”

Simultaneously, American officials also acknowledge that the relationship between Mr Karzai and the CIA is wide ranging.

Whatever the case maybe, one’s doubt on the role of Nato in dealing the opium cultivation is valid.

Nato believes that the March offensive in Marjah redoubled the crackdown on drug traffickers with the aim of cutting the Taliban off from their main source of funding. Meanwhile, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): “a mystery disease infecting opium poppies in Afghanistan could cut this year’s illicit crop in some areas by up to 70 percent. The disease has led authorities to expect a ‘significant’ reduction in opium production this year.”

UNODC further said that the output of opium could fall by up to 25 percent.

According to the above explanations, the Marjah operation as well as the disease infecting opium poppies, the natural inducement, must bring a significant reduction in opium cultivation this year. Stats on it will be cleared up in the near future.

The solution to reduce the illegal opium cultivation is quite simple in my view. The impoverished people of Afghanistan cultivate opium not because they enjoy doing it or they consider it some sort of a redemptive act. They cultivate it to get money to buy food to feed their families. Opium is cheaper than the food many Afghan families consume. According to a blog at New York Times: “The poverty in the region (Badakhshan) is so consuming that parents blow opium smoke into their children’s noses to soothe the pangs of hunger.” The solution to end all of this is to overhaul the country’s infrastructure. Instead of spending billions of dollars on the war in Afghanistan, the United States must spend richly on humanitarian work. Humanitarian work, it seems, has nowadays become a sole job of NGO’s and private humanitarian organizations rather than the respective governments.

In Pakistan, a horde of people die each year due to the drug abuse. During the time of former President Musharraf regime, the then Health Minister stated that Afghanistan’s opium trade is sabotaging the efforts of Pakistan in controlling the spread of HIV in the country, particularly amongst the injection drug users. To be sure, drug trafficking and drug abuse directly affects

Pakistan’s internal security as well as its social stability. It ought to be dealt with iron hands.

Being a Pakistani, I’d also like to ask the government of Pakistan as to what role it is playing to limit the Afghan drug cultivation and its trafficking? According to some analysts, around a quarter of Afghanistan’s opium production is shipped through Pakistan from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan region. Pakistan government has all the right to question the ability and legitimacy of Nato in regards to the Afghan opium cultivation and trafficking.

Despite the fact that the government of Pakistan has taken some measures to cope with the drug trafficking issue, the trafficking is still prospering in Pakistan and feeding problems of drug addiction and the prevalence of HIV.

Does this not substantiate the fact that the government should do “a lot more” and not just “more” in this regards?

How To Produce A Terrorist

How To Produce A Terrorist

How To Produce A Terrorist

The sky roared, the thunderous sound was echoing and then there was a loud explosion heard. The air strike caused a ruckus, there was bloodshed everywhere — with 10’s of fatalities and 100’s of wounded. People were shouting, crying — everyone was sad yet full of wrath. A lot of them lost their brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers, sons, daughters in the air strike. The present was full of grief.

This was a usual routine that sometimes Pakistani fighter planes would turn up and bomb the suspected hideouts of the militants and mostly the US led drone attacks sketch a real picture of another hell on earth. God knows how many militants the air strike killed, but what is apparent is that every air strike or drone attack for the purpose of hunting down the militants had never reduced the number of militants, instead it gave birth to the 100’s of more fighters against the state government and Nato, who show their ire against the state government and Nato because they lost their loved ones for no reason. Some of the peaceful people before the strike becomes terrorist after the air strike or drone attack parce que they lost their loved ones and the moxie for retribution intensifies within. How would you satisfy or pacify the people when “you” go on a killing spree of innocent civilians and make them loose their brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers and other acquaints in the drone attack or airstrike or bomb blast? You killed their beloved ones too, because you never raise the voice against the atrocities and you’re as blamable as the militant’s facilitators and ratifiers.

The ongoing terrorism, I daresay, has always been a bilateral process — and where the chances of peace has been practically deep-six. Subsequently, the battlefront is formed which we see today: you kill our brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, wives, fathers, mothers, husbands and friends etc. — in retaliation we’ll kill yours too. This is a ‘general’ situation, exclusive of the religious hype. This goes on, and we’re majorly loosing innocents day-after-day — the rural innocents in drone attacks and air strikes, the urban innocents in suicide blasts. In a word of one of my American friend: When American army or any army regrets the loss of innocent lives, I ask whose life isn’t innocent? We all are innocent.

Want to know more about how, by and large, the world produces terrorist? One should watch the movie “The Peacemaker”. His only daughter was killed and he went on a rampage to blow the whole city with a nuclear bomb. This is the state of mind of ‘many’ of the suffered ones — furiousness at its peak. Those tagged terrorists of today kill someone else’s loved ones .. and the status quo afloat, under a revision. We ought to find out the root cause of the problems and start rendering the justice to the best we can. Justice is the solution to all problems, and not the war or oppression of any kind.

Action & Consequences

Something out-of-the-way. Few days back when NATO announced a major offensive in the southern Afghanistan in an area call Marja, there was a donnybrook mobilizing everywhere regarding the civilian casualties. American officialdoms said the civilian casualties in this major offensive is inevitable. And see, this is what happened: an errant American rocket strike on Sunday, 14th Feb 2010, hit a compound crowded with Afghan civilians, killing at least 12 people, including 5 children.

On Monday, 15th Feb 2010, NATO officials said an airstrike, unrelated to the Marja operation, killed five civilians and wounded two others. They were mistakenly believed to be planting roadside bombs in Kandahar province.

But somehow at this point in time US has taken the notice of civilian casualties and in order to avert the civilian casualties, today U.S. curtailed the use of airstrikes in assault on Marja.

Since this is something I again term as out-of-the-way, I thought I must share it. Simultaneously I just don’t think that in war the action should ever be divorced from the consequences. This is a war — a useless too — and civilian casualties are inevitable in the light of the situation. May the self proclaimed Godfather of Democracy and Justice realize it sooner than later.

Talibans — the intransigent conservatives, a stratagem or beyond it?

Years have passed now so far listening to the cries of civvies on Taliban and Talibanization. Many doesn’t know the history of the origination of Talibans and many are determined to learn. Youngsters have started believing them as hobgoblin, few adults conceive them as “Snakehead” — a villain in a movie “The Medallion” of Jackie Chan — so some have started learning Judo Karate to overcome the Snakehead, the collared ones repent .. repent, and towards the west — has been complying of modern warfare which soon will become a living fiction.

The chronicle says that Alexander invaded Afghanistan. His expedition was kind of successful, but he was miserably failed to subdue the people of Afghanistan — Afghani’s in general. History repeats itself, and sometimes repetitively. Soviets met their fate once. Err!! Uncle Sam can’t be Alexander. It’s unfortunate to see the way modern movies depicted the character of Alexander. Alexander was a dignified warrior. Today, after 2,361 years, he’d be rather mystified to see himself over big screen if he walks into any of the cinema and learn that a great part of his life isn’t being played on screen — only the flaming invasions!

Let’s move to the current Talibans and Talibanization. The Talibanization in Pakistan dates back to the time of invasion of Soviet over Afghanistan. Pakistan was an interlocutor — used as a tract to breed the Jihad — sending Jihadis to Afghanistan for fighting against Soviets. USA kept on helping Jihadis, in fact the support Afghanistan got from USA was coming via Israel — including the heavy munition and financial aid. Soviets were booted out by Afghans and Jihadis. It was the time for USA to attempt its luck for invasion. This time Pakistan was also a collateral target.

To target the NATO forces and infiltrate into Afghanistan whenever needed, and then boomerang to Pakistan since Pakistan itself was a  greensward — a heaven-place — for the freedom fighters later tagged as Talibans when the master Yankee-Doodle raised the eyebrows and declared itself a Superpower by attacking over Afghanistan a few years after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Today, I was discussing situation of Afghanistan with one of my Afghani friend who’s a very close friend of mine — a pro-Pakistani. His words were, no matter what USA is doing in Afghanistan — they can’t fulfill their purpose of subduing Afghanis. He further said, it has been long since Afghanis are fighting to see Afghanistan as independent nation — first against Soviets, then Talibans, now with both USA and Talibans.

Talibans weren’t bad people as they’re today. The oppression they’ve faced increased their bedevility hence making them cruel more.

Pakistani government has a history of treating Talibans as their hero. If stratagem of dealing Talibans had gone good in the past, we would not have been facing such disastrous times today. It’s our luck we’ve written for ourself — and it’s we ourself who can revert the mistakes committed.

These days Talibans are disseminating all over Pakistan trying to enforce Shariah — a Shariah of an unknown Islam. So far, they’re successful in the implementation of Shariah in Malakand Division with the help of TSNM and Provincial Government. The loud lyrics in favor of TSNM is being heard from the people of Swat. As yet, things are still not clear if the real peace will be restored in Swat in a literal way. My views doesn’t matter, albeit I’m in favor of this truce, but simultaneously also believe that the elimination of the cannibalic ideologies of Talibans is mandatory.

TSNM is a separate outfit having different purpose. If Talibans were a part of TSNM, they would not have abstained from the Buner Peace Jirgah today (26th April, 2009) where they were invited to hold talks and the practical measures for the enforcement of Adl regulation there. Although a threat has been issued to government to restore the Adl regulation in Buner otherwise TSNM is compelled to join TTP and their barbaric activities. Is it the envisioning of Mullah Sufi Muhammad who cries about Islam, and on the other side believes on the atrocities just on the name of Islam?

Many believe these barbaric people as foreign agents. Not agents, but sure foreign funded.

Still, things aren’t clear so far what will be the role of Pakistani Government, what TSNM will be doing and how TTP can be eliminated. I, personally favored NAR in Swat due to the reasons of the restoration of peace there which was once in the times of Wali Ehad of Swat. Things were good back then. The modernistic way of Islamiztion and restoration of peace is yet different from that of past. Things are hazy as of now.

15,000 miscreant Talibans and 500,000 of Pakistan Army — can not fight against the handful of miscreants segregated at different places? Pakistan Army can, but they don’t — that’s what I’ve started believing.

In all the major cities of Pakistan, the threat of Talibanization is yet there to make people fright. People are fright due to obvious reasons. But the another factor is, people are divided themselves on the basis of ethnicity, raciality, linguistic, provincialism, and thoughts. If that’s all we’ve to demonstrate, no wonder our remorses and downfall is reasonable — in fact very fair.