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News: According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production in Afghanistan has crossed 6,000 tonnes for the 5th consecutive year. It led to an increase in the production of opiates by 8%.
What were the reasons behind the increase in opium production in Afghanistan?
Source of income: Taliban is involved in promoting its production, taxation and smuggling either into Pakistan or Iran. According to United Nations, Taliban earned more than $400 million between 2018-19 from the drug trade. Another report from the United States Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) estimated that the Taliban derive up to 60% of their annual revenue from illicit narcotics.
Strengthening relations with Terrorist groups like the Organization of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Islamic State, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Hezbollah and others.
No alternate livelihood programme: Punitive policies were advocated by the international community, which sought the use of force to destroy standing opium crops without adequately compensating the farmers or leaving them without alternative livelihoods.
All this results in flourishing the narco-infrastructure in Afghanistan and developing a symbiotic nexus and indigenous facilities to produce methamphetamine pills.
What is the cause of concern for India?
There has been an increase in the cases of smuggling and seizures of large consignments of drugs in India. The huge recoveries of heroin, 3,000 kg in September alone signifies that. So, the instability in Afghanistan has initiated narcotic smuggling waves, if unchecked, have the potential of destabilizing India’s security.
What policies should the Indian government adapt to counter the threat of narco-terrorism?
India should look for alliances in Central, West, and South Asia to prevent the economic collapse of the Afghan state and in preventing humanitarian crises.
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Government should engage with Afghan society including all stakeholders like political leaders, business groups and others who are looking for assistance in having a legitimate, representative and inclusive leadership in their country.
Source: This post is based on the article “Afghanistan, the rise of a narco-terrorist state” published in The Hindu on 1st December 2021.