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?

Dignity On Sine Die Sale

Throughout history human have confronted similar obstacles, have endeavored to achieve similar goals, and sequentially have strived to better themselves and the world around them. Still there are many parts of the world where human race is abominably engrossed in exercising antithetically to the professed beliefs. The traditional battle of good vs evil continues.

All the countries across the globe have different priorities at different modes of time — to improve and strengthen their nation more and as per the wants of its citizens (though sometimes the sentiments of citizens are ruled out). These priorities often come with a whim of greed to bolster the nation amain. This hastiness at numerous occasions becomes onerous which results in reversion of all the efforts put forward in the past. Not too far to go to seek any such example since our own country, Pakistan, is a fine example of this unpalatableness.

Soon after the creation of Pakistan, Pakistan protested over the issue of India’s existence in commonwealth countries because of its Republican status, but due to the preferential treatment of Western powers for India, Pakistan remained unheard. Yet, it was a time when Pakistan was in a state of an utter bewilderment. Being a newly independent nation it was confused whether to adapt itself with Western democracy or communism. The then finance minister of Pakistan, Ghulam Muhammad, also iterated that we’ve no implicit faith on Western democracy nor we can make ourself commit to communism at this point in time. In the meanwhile, Kashmir Issue remained unsolved. Pakistan sought help from Commonwealth Countries specially Britain but failed to receive any satisfactory response. A last-ditch attempt Pakistan made was to seek help from the Muslim world, but interestingly and surprisingly the Muslim countries privileged India to a good extent rather than Pakistan. Pakistan was disappointed with the happenings. At this desperate phase, Liaquat Ali Khan received an invitation from USSR to visit Moscow for the talks. It was a pollyannaish hope for Pakistan and Liaquat Ali Khan was satisfied that a way out of a thick mist is getting clear. After receiving the invitation to visit Moscow, Liaquat Ali Khan delayed his visit and later postponed it to an indefinite period. In sometime, Pakistan received an invitation from United States — offering economic and political help to Pakistan along with the positive solution of Kashmir — Pakistan accepted it and abrogated the invitation of USSR.

62 years have passed now since United States gave Pakistan a hope of solving Kashmir Issue positively under a pack of negotiations, but without any movement of change the status quo persists.

Economic aid was promised to Pakistan which was fulfilled by United States, but at a cost of modern-slavery. The modern-slavery is hooked with a nomenclature which today has more to do with the sovereignty of Pakistan.

The United States started a war in Afghanistan — a war which has no end — and a war to dispatch the Talibans who were mutually created by Pakistan and United States. An event to remember that the band of these monsters was once privileged by the same United States.

In the meanwhile, Pakistan always have had the chances to witness the dual-turns of United States foreign policies and imperialism — but the leaders of Pakistan yet kept on continuing to hold the relations with United States in a firm way as it was started initially. The priorities of Pakistan remained im-permute. At different modes of time since 1947, Pakistan remained cling to United States; however, in other parts of the world the priorities of different nations keep on varying time to time. The European Union is a good example though. The clock of progress of Pakistan remains standstill except that of the economy which was and is heavily bankrolled by United States at a huge expense — sovereignty.

When 9/11 catastrophe happened and Musharraf was railroaded by the United States about pushing Pakistan to a stone age if Pakistan wouldn’t help United States in fighting the war in Afghanistan — which they say is a war against terrorism. Veteran President General Pervez Musharraf — without giving it a thought that he’s living in a 21st century and his country holds the nuclear arms — came under the influence of this gunboat diplomacy and rapidly offered full services of Pakistan to United States, hence tossing out Pakistan into extreme problems. The leaders of Pakistan have remained frail at such phases.

In a hasty manner, Musharraf accepted United States demands — as fully as it shouldn’t be — in a hope that collaboration with US would give Pakistan the chances to quickly improve itself — economically, poltically and advancement in defence — yet he again forgot the huge price Pakistan has to pay for it and will keep paying till the ties of unilateral selfish-friendship continues between both the nation.

Musharraf transacted with the United States — following the footprints of his predecessors — and rendering Pakistanis to United States for the exchange of dollars which surged the economy of Pakistan temporarily, but its moral and principled justification can’t be legalized no where in the world where the rule of law is superior.

These are the things we keep on talking and discussing often and so much. And these are always serious matters concerning every Pakistani. It’s a Pakistani who would decide and build its nation not a Yankee or a Brit. The priorities of Pakistanis should be with a whim to bolster the nation — but not hastily as it always has happened, not even under a dismantled sovereignty in exchange of dollars — but only and solely as a staunch supporter of its country under legal principles. The battle of good vs evil continues — and the good wins ultimately. But no sucess without an obsess — obsess with duty, honor and country — and as General Douglas McArthur said: These three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points, to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Today, the political leaders and Army can use and will always use ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ to embroil Pakistan to troubles, dilemma and desperate straits — but unfortunately this ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ was and is never used to emerge Pakistan from the obnoxious situations we’re facing today. Or rather this substantiates with evidence the dignity of Pakistan is really on sine die sale.

SCO — Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Should Pakistan join or not?

SCO Annual Summit 2009

SCO Annual Summit 2009


SCO’s predecessor, the Shanghai Five mechanism, originated and grew from the endeavor by China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to strengthen confidence-building and disarmament in the border regions. In 1996 and 1997, their heads of state met in Shanghai and Moscow respectively and signed the Treaty on Deepening Military Trust in Border Regions and the Treaty on Reduction of Military Forces in Border Regions. The cooperation mechanism was later known as the “Shanghai Five”. [1]

Aims and Objectives of SCO:

The main goals of the SCO are strengthening mutual confidence and good-neighbourly relations among the member countries; promoting effective cooperation in politics, trade and economy, science and technology, culture as well as education, energy, transportation, tourism, environmental protection and other fields; making joint efforts to maintain and ensure peace, security and stability in the region, moving towards the establishment of a new, democratic, just and rational political and economic international order. [2]

Pakistan and the SCO:

Being a part of SCO means enhancing the country’s strength economically, strategically, defensively, militarily, touristic, and security-wise. Pakistan could gain a lot by infixing in this organization. 2006 was the first time when former President Musharraf joined one of the summit of SCO in Shanghai — with Pakistan under an observer status. Since 2006 to date, Pakistan has remained under the observer status, albeit government of Pakistan has been a part of SCO summits with the same observer status.

There has been a host of speculations about SCO going to be equivalent to NATO. It seems that Russia wants SCO to be a militarily strong organization — equivalent to NATO. But then, China, volitionally wants SCO to be an organization which can boost the economic sphere within its member countries along with countering terrorism in the region. So far, China and Russia both have kept their wants in stable state and working together to tone it up.

I guess, Pakistan has a great opportunity to come out from the slavery of US and be a part of SCO which is strengthening its basis day-to-day. But it seems that the current government of Pakistan is also reluctant to make Pakistan a part of SCO. A couple of days back President Zardari went to Russia to take part in annual SCO summit. No positive and favorable results emerged this time as well. Okay, it’d not be a childs play for Pakistan to join SCO while knowing the facts that Russia wouldn’t be favoring it under a silent thought that Pakistan’s inclusion in SCO will make China’s position more strong in SCO. But that’s just more of speculation. Although Russia as yet doesn’t seem much happy with Pakistan due to Pakistan’s significant role in Soviet-Afghan war which lead USSR to collapse. This perceptible event hasn’t disappeared from the minds of Russian Communist Government and they haven’t forgotten the wounds they encountered — but still Russia and Pakistan has bilateral diplomatic ties and okay relations amongst. Anti-US factor is one thing which has kept Russia to start developing ties with Pakistan once again. Pakistan has kept its ties with Russia too. It seems incoherent, but that’s Russia — never forgetting the cold war and the collapse of USSR due to US intervention — the same USSR which once was a claimed superpower in the world, not US — and the same USSR which sought for the Korea when Japan escaped after 2nd world war — but had to hold back just on North Korea when US intervened and took hold on South Korea. Before that, Vietnam war too, anyway.

If the speculations about Russia reluctant to give Pakistan full membership unless India doesn’t join SCO is true perchance, then Pakistan should stress China to help her getting full membership of SCO. Sino-Pak relations have always been good in the past where both the countries have helped each other at several occasions — Pakistan recognizing PRC (China) while snubbing ROC (Taiwan), helping China in getting UN membership, and reciprocally China helped Pakistan in VETOing against Kashmir Issue in UNSC, the Sino-Indian war was a portal for Pakistan to get more close to China, so on and so forth.

It’s never too late to take a good decision when one is in position to take. It truly is a favorable time for Pakistan to think about getting full membership of SCO before it genuinely gets late.

What do you think: Should Pakistan join SCO?