Mar 14, 2018 13:44 UTC

While speaking on illicit drugs and the necessity of confronting drug traffickers, the minds often turn towards Afghanistan.

But, how much is the share of Afghanistan in the global drug trade? Will the drug trade end if drug production decreases in Afghanistan? To find the answers, we have to touch upon the intricate current of drug trade in the world.

Organized criminal networks in the world had earned 870 billion dollars (1.5% of the global GDP and 7% of global commodity export) in 2009. 320 billion dollars of this money was gained through drug smuggling while 70% of this figure was related to heroin trafficking. The heroin exported from Afghanistan through the neighboring countries is nearly worth 3800 dollars per kilogram. This is the price of pure heroin which is sold in Europe at 70 dollars per gram. It means 50 times more than the price at the borders of Afghanistan. It is worthy of note that the gangs active in the countries on the route of transit profit exorbitantly from drug trafficking. Their activity has caused countless problems for these countries.

Reduction of profits garnered from drug smuggling may lead to reduction of opium cultivation in Afghanistan but this trade will not end completely as there are many profiteers on the scene.

Rangin Dadfar Sepanta, Afghanistan's National Security Advisor, believes that countering the drug phenomenon has not been dealt with seriously in the world as some consider it as a regional problem which the Afghan government should tackle. Speaking at an international confab which was recently held in Sochi, Russia, the Afghan official made it clear that campaign against narcotics will not bear fruit if the connecting links of the system of drug supply are ignored.

The real international community (not a handful of powers dominating the UN and other economic and political organs) should campaign against drug trade and consumption just as it has focused on fighting terrorism and maintaining of security. This means that drug production and trafficking is not a one-way road. According to the Coordinator of Paris Act at the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, Marie Anne Menier, the drug production has had an increase of 78% in 2017 compared with the previous year. Attending the meeting of experts for border cooperation which was recently held in Tehran within the Paris Act, the UN official said at the presence of delegates of over 30 countries that the soaring of drug cultivation in Afghanistan is an alarm for the world. Anne Menier, stressing that this issue will cause security and health threats for the society, continued that the big drug gangs in the world act beyond borders and commit organized crimes in different shapes. In 2016, too, the global poppy cultivation had increased over 30% compared with 2015. This much of poppy was cultivated in Afghanistan.

Today, there are variegated types of drugs at the global market. Psychotropic substances are changing very rapidly. It was reported that in 2015 there were 483 of these substances compared with 260 in 2012. Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Yuri Fedotov, said that the final document of the UN General Assembly's special summit in 2016 included over 100 tangible recommendations to decrease supply and demand for drugs; but problems and concerns linger on. The important question is: Why has there been no reduction in drug production and smuggling, and it has rather increased 43% since 2017, despite all efforts and spending of huge moneys in this campaign? Has the Afghan government pursued a specific strategy in recent years to confront drug production and smuggling? What has caused the campaigning efforts of the government to fail?

It seems that there is no specific mechanism to confront production and trafficking of drugs in Afghanistan. Perhaps, for this reason the government has failed to pursue its main annual programs. This, as the US and its allies occupied Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, 2001 under the guise of fighting terrorism. The issue of campaigning drug cultivation and trafficking was announced as one of the priorities of this bloody expedition but very soon the covert hands of the British and American military were exposed in development of poppy fields and production of drugs. The fact is that spread of drug production in Afghanistan is not a haphazard phenomenon. Numerous evidences and documents bear witness that the United States and a few European regimes are vehemently supporting drug production and trafficking as they earn colossal profits from drug trafficking.

British daily Independent wrote in a report that the income earned from drug trade in Afghanistan is very important for other countries involved in the business. That's why the endeavors of the Afghan government against drug trade have totally failed. Another question that arises in the mind is: What have been the global policies based on reducing the cultivation and trade of narcotics in Afghanistan?

After the 2002 summit in Bonn, the international community designated some countries for coordination of measures in Afghanistan. Since then, Britain has been the coordinator of measures to "campaign" against drug in Afghanistan.

In 2010, nearly 2300 hectares and in 2012 around 3800 hectares of poppy fields were destroyed by government officials near roads. However, considering that there are approximately 130,000 hectares of poppy fields in the country, this number of destruction is not remarkable. The main problem is insecurity, political instability, laws that are not executed, inefficiency of policies and corruption among some officials. Since drug production and trafficking is intertwined with insecurity, political instability and terrorism, campaign against one requires campaign against others, too. It needs a realistic and strong policy which takes into consideration social conditions of every region, too. To stop poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the long-term goal should focus on revival of the infrastructure, eradication of corruption and creation of peace and security in the country. It should also be noted that the international bodies like UNODC and member states are duty bound to constantly fight drug supply and demand. Next time we will deal with this issue.