Globe, World

Opium: the other invasion of Afghanistan

After just over 10 years since The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) invaded, this country is still the world’s leading opium supplier, responsible for what is estimated to be over 90 per cent of global opium production.

Pedro Blas García

When this data is analysed within the context of this invaded country’s domestic situation, it translates as an annual contribution of close to 500 million dollars to the Gross National Product (GNP); a figure which the Hamid Karzai regime, evidently, does not taken into account.

These figures, provided by United Nations (UN) and its specialised institutions, indicate that opium poppy cultivation has increased in 14 Afghan provinces, particularly in Helmand Province.

Warlord “heirs” such as Abdul Rashin Dostum, Atta Muhammad, Gul Agha Sherzai, Ismail Khan and Harji Bashar, are now in control of a trade which involves government officials; foreign specialists who act as NATO security officers and military members.

Data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime claims that revenue per hectare of opium poppy cultivation reaches over 3,500 dollars compared to 1,100 dollars for wheat production.

Unchanging story

Following NATO’s invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, attempts to provoke administrative chaos in order to neutralise the insurgency movement have not brought forth the expected results nor have they been successful in stemming the spread of corruption.

State figures such as the assassinated brother of Karzai, Ahmed Wali or Izzatullah Wasafi, head of the Anti-corruption Bureau, are an example of drug trafficking relations within the government.

Hamid Karzai, presidente de Afganistán.

Country instability together with failed and continued military operations by the NATO-led coalition have been unsuccessful in reducing resistance against the occupation and curbing the increase in opium production.

Spanish expert in this field, Iñigo Febrel Belloch, argues that “the fight against opium cultivation and drugs trafficking cannot be won solely through military involvement but it must also be a focal point for all institutions and domestic policies…”

Although dates and organisation are still unclear, from 2014 onwards, the USA together with NATO allies plan to remove their troops from Afghanistan, an act that will without a doubt enable the chaos to continue in a nation which lacks even the most basic social infrastructure.

* Prensa Latina Chief Editor, Asia.

(Translated by Rebecca Hayhurst – E-mail:

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