Despite the counter-terrorist campaign going on in Afghanistan, the scale of drug trafficking from this country across the Afghan-Tajik border to the Central Asian countries, to Russia, and further to the West has not diminished, Gen. Konstantin Totski, the director of Russia’s Federal Border Service, is quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying at a briefing that tookplace after the 42nd meeting of the CIS border troop commanders’ council held in the Russian capital. In the general’s view, “Afghanistan is the main source of this evil, and the bulk of the drugs comes to Central Asian countries and Russia from Afghanistan. We are especially concerned that the share of heroin, the most poisonous narcotic, is rising steeply in the overall drug flow.”
According to a UN report, Afghanistan, Mianma (Burma), and Columbia head the list of drug-producing countries. Afghanistan and Mianma jointly supply the world markets with about 90% of the world's opium, while Columbia alone produces over 60% of the world's cocaine. Stunning figures, aren’t they?
Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries (if not the poorest). Therefore, opium for its residents is, in the first place, a means to subsist and even to survive. A continuous war, waged for over 20 years, requires colossal amounts of money, and you need something to sell to get the money. Therefore, Mojaheds, Osama bin Laden, and even the Northern Alliance have been involved in drug trafficking, treating it as a rightful source of revenue. All warring parties have somehow been involved in it. However, the question is how and by what means are we to fight this misfortune?
As a result of the September 11th and subsequent events, countries surrounding Afghanistan have turned into the front line of the global war against terrorism, against the illegal drug trafficking, and against extremism.
Drug smuggling and drug addiction have become burning issues in Russia. The bulk of drugs illegally supplied to Russia omes from Central Asia, predominantly under the guidance of Afghan smugglers. From Russia, drugs continue their journey further to East-European and West-European countries.
The Afghan drug business is having the most detrimental impact on transit countries and European countries. In many transit countries, including Russia, serious growth in heroin addiction and also in the number in the HIV-infected people (due to intravenous injection) is being registered as a result of the heroin “leakage.” As Iran and Pakistan are toughening their control of their international borders, drug dealers may further activate the use of Central Asian routes for shipping drugs to the West. As a result, the volume of drugs shipped through Russia’s territory is on the increase. The best way to head off drugs, arms, and terrorists arriving from Afghanistan is the cooperation in fighting illegal drug trafficking, in ensuring border security, and also in the field of information exchange.
Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/29/34353.html