Afghanistan celebrates Independence Day on Monday
The main festivities will be held at the Kabul stadium where public executions were performed under the Taliban regime. To save money, the Afghan authorities decided not to hold the traditional military parade this year. President Hamid Karzai is expected to participate in the festivities and deliver a speech.
It is very likely that the president’s speech will be a repetition of his recent radio address to the nation. The theme is quite clear: national security, which, at the same time, implies an army of its own made up of a separated Afghan population for the protection of state sovereignty. If a regular army is created, other armed groups outside its structure will be declared illegal (gangster groups headed by field commanders, which Hamid Karzai still cannot defeat). The president’s initiative is supported Afghani Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim, who appealed to the population last week and asked the people to lay down their arms.
Another problem sure to be mentioned by the president is the drug mafia, as Afghanistan is the world’s number opium producer. According to the data presented by the UN, this year's opium production has reached amounts produced at the end of the 1990s, before the Taliban prohibited the growing opium poppy. At that time, 70-percent of the heroin on the world market was supplied from Afghanistan.
Opium production is the main, and sometimes the only, source of income for the majority of Afghans. According to the FAO, the Afghanistan drug mafia earns over $1 billion each year from growing opium poppy.
The new Afghanistan government has declared war against the drug mafia; however, it is very difficult to defeat. The government headed by Hamid Karzai has had no success with it so far. The other day, FAO representatives reported that the attempts of Hamid Karzai to destroy opium poppy plantations have failed. Moreover, UN experts say that the opium poppy crop is to increase next year. It is not clear what Hamid Karzai will do next. However, the new Afghanistan government needs international financial support closely connected with the struggle against the drug trade.
Afghanistan fails to restore peace, because hostilities are still raging on 60% of the country’s territory. Therefore, the new president and his government are in for a great amount of work in order restore peace in Afghanistan.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/19/45883.html
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