The Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan two decades after the US-led coalition withdrew its troops. Once a Pakistani-backed extremist group, it has risen to power with unprecedented speed, promising “many changes”. It brings with it a host of other promises, such as respecting women, arranging for their education, general amnesty for members of the army and police of the previous government, and taking a stand against drugs. But within a few months, the Taliban turned the tables on Pasha. With the passage of time, their old appearance is coming out. The issue of a new polarization of the Taliban’s relations with the international community has come up for discussion, but it is becoming a source of concern for them to back away from their promises. Adding to the old brutality is the country’s weak economy.
Afghanistan’s crumbling economy is now a cause for concern. That, too, could be dealt with slowly. But the country, which is prone to hunger and poverty, is now a headache because of its global drug trade. The Taliban have sought to legitimize opium poppy cultivation, with some international aid agencies withdrawing from the country and reneging on their promises to revive the economy. Where the whole world is fighting against drugs, the Taliban’s attempt to go the wrong way is a mistake. The history of the Taliban benefiting from this drug trade is not new. Even when they were in power twenty years ago, they also collected taxes from the drug trade in various sectors. And they have been collecting war supplies for so long by relying on that money. Leaving the battlefield and sitting on the throne of power now with a fragile economy, they are once again following the old path of the ‘profitable’ drug trade. However, after taking control of Kabul, the Taliban promised to stop opium cultivation.
Haji Abdul Haq Akhand Hamkar, the Taliban’s deputy interior minister, said efforts were being made to legalize opium poppy cultivation. And that would benefit the Afghan people. One thing is clear, he said, the Taliban no longer have a problem with the drug menace around the world, let alone worry about earning a living. The country’s drug trade network is so vast and powerful that the fight against it in the international arena could be more difficult and long-lasting than the fight against militancy. How extensive is the Afghan drug trade? Poppy is mainly cultivated in the country. The extract of this poppy fruit is made from opium, a terrible drug like heroin. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), Afghanistan produces 80 percent of the world’s opium.
According to data provided by UNDOC in 2016, the share of drug trafficking in the Afghan economy is 11 percent. According to the BBC, 95 per cent of the heroin that goes to Europe comes from opium in Afghanistan. However, only one percent of Afghanistan’s heroin goes to the United States. This is information from the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Despite the strict religious discipline, the Taliban are regularly involved in drug trafficking. Of money
Therefore, they have also increased poppy cultivation. According to the US State Department, poppy cultivation in the country increased from 41,000 hectares to 64,000 hectares between 1994 and 2000 during the Taliban regime.
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Significantly, 39 percent of the illicit opium was produced in the Taliban-controlled province of Helmand. When the Taliban banned poppy cultivation in areas under their control in 2000, drug seizures decreased over the next two years. But since then the picture has been changing again. Although poppy cultivation was controlled under the newly ousted government, it continued to operate in Taliban-controlled areas. In 2020, the Taliban will be under control
Poppy has been cultivated in most of the agricultural lands of Helmand province. According to the US State Department, the Taliban collect taxes from the drug trade in a number of ways.
First, from poppy cultivation. There are allegations that the Taliban collects 10 percent tax from poppy farmers. Taxes are also levied on opium, heroin production laboratories and drug trafficking. The Taliban’s stake in the illicit drug trade is estimated at 400 million. General John, commander of the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR)
According to Nicholson, 80 percent of the Taliban’s annual income comes from the drug trade. Needless to say, the Taliban will not shy away from such lucrative and lucrative deals, even when the country’s economy is fragile.
The amount of money the Taliban have made from this business will not allow them to return. Moreover, even the poor farmers cannot survive without opium. The Taliban must not be complacent about the huge stockpile of drugs produced. Since they want to legalize poppy cultivation, they have to reach out to the global illicit drug market, whether for profit or for the country’s economy. The danger is there. The spread of drugs around the world under the auspices of the Taliban will undoubtedly become a risk factor.
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