Drug Trade Derails Afghan Reconstruction; Requires International Assistance
in Angela Drakulich, ed, A Global Agenda: Issues before the 59th General Assembly of the United Nations
(New York: UNA-USA, 2004), p 149
Ironically, since the defeat of the Taliban in late 2001, drug trade has more than significantly increased. In fact, Afghanistan is currently the world's largest producer of opium and trafficker of heroin. The 2003 Opium Poppy Survey, conducted by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, estimates that the income of opium farmers and drug traffickers in 2003—totaling more than $2.3 billion—was equivalent to more than 50 percent of the country's gross domestic product. In 2004, with Afghanistan's opium production set to reach a record high, the international community must begin to treat drug trade as the country's principal challenge. The Afghan government's plan to eliminate their production by 2013 seems unrealistic. Thus far, its efforts under United Kingdom supervision have concentrated on building the capacity of government institutions, such as the country's Counter-Narcotics Directorate and Counter-Narcotics Police. While these activities are essential to the long-term fight against drugs, they have not yet had an immediate effect on the amount of opium cultivated or trafficked. Furthermore, opium has the ability to finance not only many of the warlords currently serving in the government, but also the resurgent Taliban and even Al-Qaeda. Since the biggest beneficiaries of the drug trade are both partial and total spoilers of the state-building process being led by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, it is crucial to root out the key sources of the trade. Full Text