Congress calls for coordinated anti-drug strategy
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Observing that Afghan drug trade funds the insurgency, fuels corruption, and creates major public health challenges, a Congressional report on Tuesday called for a comprehensive and coordinated counter-narcotics strategy.
The bipartisan report, “Future US Counternarcotics Efforts in Afghanistan,” by Senate Caucus on international narcotics control provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama administration to counter illicit activities and corruption surrounding the Afghan drug trade.
“The Afghan drug trade funds the Taliban, fuels corruption and creates major public health challenges,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein.
She said that Afghanistan could become a narco-state without an effective, comprehensive and coordinated counternarcotics strategy, coupled with unprecedented levels of international cooperation.
“If we don’t act, Afghanistan’s drug trade could undermine hard won gains and US investments and threaten the safety of the citizens of Afghanistan and neighboring countries,” she added.
Noting that opium production in Afghanistan has rapidly increased as the US military presence has been reduced, Senator Chuck Grassley said the report outlines the critical need for the Obama administration to put plans in place now to support continuing counternarcotics efforts without the current level of security provided by the United States.
“The administration should provide Congress with a comprehensive, multi-agency, workable strategy before any more gains made over the past 13 years are lost,” Grassley said.
The report recommends that the United States work with the Afghan government to account for the inherent challenges that have previously stymied US efforts to produce and implement a long-term, interagency counternarcotics strategy and develop goals and metrics to measure progress.
It recommends the US to encourage additional countries to support counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan and provide resources to help better interdict narcotics leaving Afghanistan.
The report calls on the US to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan by developing an interagency anti-corruption strategy; providing training and support Afghan counternarcotics units vetted by the Drug Enforcement Agency; and expand the vetting process to include select members of the judicial sector.
It urges the US to ensure scarce resources are prioritized to support effective interdiction efforts over eradication and fund alternative livelihood programs that focus more intensely on non-farm income.
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