Afghanistan alone not responsible for world drug trade: Muqbil
Speaking at the second quadrilateral meeting of counter narcotics officials from Afghanistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Pakistan, the Afghan counternarcotics minister, Zarar Ahmad Muqbil, said the cultivation of poppies in Afghanistan and its processing into opium and heroin involved a number of channels and individuals in many countries. Afghanistan should not be held responsible alone for the business as Afghans earned only three percent of the $68 billion income from the international drug trade, he said. "This shows that the Afghan growers who suffer from hunger and poverty are being deceived by the international drug mafia," Muqbil told the meeting.
Afghanistan still produces 90 percent of the world's total narcotics.
The minister said Afghanistan planned to implement a five-year counternarcotics plan, which he hoped would help the production reduced by 50 percent.
Muqbil said the increasing demand for drugs in the regional and international markets, the existence of drug trafficking groups, violence, instability, poverty, hunger, unemployment and the non-implementation of development projects were some of the reasons behind the poppy growth in Afghanistan.
He also said the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives had also been involved in the illicit trade. He claimed the Taliban earned $150 million a year from the trade.
Most of the drugs produced in Afghanistan smuggled into Iran, Pakistan, Russia and central Asian countries, he said.
He said 365 tonnes of heroin were produced in Afghanistan this year and 160 tonnes of that were smuggled into Pakistan, 115 tonnes to Iran and 90 tonnes to central Asian states through Russia.
The minister said regional countries were needed to launch operations against drug smuggling groups in their respective countries. However, he said such efforts could only be successful when there was cooperation among the countries.
Head of the federal drugs control service of Russia, Viktor Ivanov, told the conference that Russia was offering a five-year plan to fight drug production in Afghanistan. He said there should be follow up meetings in order to implement the decisions taken by the presidents of the four countries regarding the fight against narcotics.
He asked the meeting to take a decision on Russia's initiated plan for the elimination of Afghan drug production codenamed Raduga-2.
He said his country believed the implementation of the five-year plan was necessary to create a relevant management body or agency for close cooperation with the Afghan government, regional governments, the UN, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation and other leading organisations of the world in practice set up a stable system for Eurasian anti-drug security.
Central offices of the agency could be placed in three large cities of Afghanistan, Ivanov said.
He urged Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan and EU authorities to speed up the adoption of a five -year Russian-European plan for the elimination of drug production.
Pakistani counternarcotics chief, Gen. Syed Shakeel Hassan, on the occasion said that media could play a key role in making the anti-drug drive a success.
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