Narcotics: A Security Threat to South Asian Countries
Citing from a report by Anthony H. Cordesman titled as Afghan Narcotics: 2000-2018: From Control And Elimination Efforts To A Drug Economy And Bombing Labs. Afghanistan and its neighbours are affected by trafficking as the drugs are moved to their key destination markets of Western Europe and the Russian Federation. About a third of the heroin produced in Afghanistan is transported to Europe via the Balkan route, while a quarter is trafficked north to Central Asia and the Russian Federation along the northern route.
Afghan heroin is also increasingly meeting a rapidly growing share of Asian demand. Approximately 15-20 metric tons are estimated to be trafficked to China, while a further 35 metric tons are trafficked to other South and South-East Asian countries. Some 35 metric tons are thought to be shipped to Africa, while the remainder supplies markets in other parts of Asia, North America and Oceania. Every year, approximately 375 tons of heroin flow from Afghanistan to the rest of the world and Southern Afghanistan acts as the primary heroin manufacture and export point towards Iran and Pakistan. Approximately 160 tons of heroin was trafficked through Pakistan in 2009, putting an estimated $650 million in the pockets of drug traffickers. 115 tons of heroin was estimated trafficked into Iran towards Turkey and Western Europe. The other path from Afghanistan is the northern route which carried an estimated 90 tons of heroin on different paths through the Central Asian States to the Russian Federation and beyond. Reports also indicate a growing importance of these northward trafficking routes for Afghan opiates flowing into China.
Besides opiates, reports show a growing prevalence of cannabis production in Central Asia. The hashish trade has grown in recent years, and total production today may rival that of Europe’s traditional supplier, Morocco. All of Afghanistan’s neighbours are reporting increases in cannabis seizures, and cannabis production has been reported in 20 of Afghanistan’s 33 provinces. With entrenched smuggling networks, widespread insecurity and a drug-based economy, Afghanistan is ideally placed to become a major player in the global hashish market.
Transperancy International Summary of Afghan Corruption: 2018
Anthony H. Cordesman in his report shows that “ Afghanistan faces major governance and corruption challenges that threaten the country’s state-building process, undermining the government’s legitimacy, stability, and rule of law. The problem of corruption in the country is exacerbated by the prevalence of illicit drug activities, a weak public administration and the large amounts of international aid flowing into the country.
Corruption permeates most government sectors and institutions. To guarantee that money is well spent and services are delivered effectively, it is crucial that Afghanistan’s public financial management system functions in an accountable and transparent manner. With the support of the international community, the government of Afghanistan has made major progress with regards to budget planning and execution, public procurement processes, and revenue collection and management. However, in spite of these improvements, Afghanistan still lacks the capacity to continue progressing in these areas without external (technical and financial) support.
A symbiotic relationship exists between the insurgency and illicit drug trafficking. Traffickers provide weapons, funding, and material support to the insurgency in exchange for protection. Some insurgents traffic drugs or tax their production and transportation to finance their operations. However, trafficking is not limited to insurgent-controlled areas, and the narcotics trade is a primary driver of corruption, which undermines governance and rule of law throughout Afghanistan”.
However as the recent peace talks that were being conducted with the Taliban should not only restrict itself to certain issues only. The talks over opium production should also take place and that Taliban should now stop misusing it against the country. Peace negotiations are unlikely to achieve Afghanistan’s main national security objective of eliminating financial lifelines for terrorist organizations if talks fail to directly address the country’s opium problem.
Taliban may never be able to gain political control over the country, but it neither wants that to happen, as long as its able to undertake the desired plans that it has. But the development of the narco-state within Afghanistan poses serious security concerns not only to itself but to the world as well. Unless it tackle the narcotics issue, Afghanistan will never be able to come out of the vicious circle of the corruption, violence, illiteracy, insurgency and underdevelopment that have plagued the country throughout its history.
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