Monday, December 11, 2006

Who profits from Afghan opium crop?

This op-ed by the eminent Indian intellectual, journalist and author MJ Akbar, editor-in-chief of The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle newspapers, appears in the Dec. 11 Khaleej Times, the English language daily published in Dubai:
How does Afghan poppy reach every corner of the civilised world? On Aladdin’s flying carpet? In the secret pouches of medieval "Islamic fundamentalists" in the pay of some dreaded "Caliph"? The business and cash flows are run by men who drink gin and tonic, or bourbon and rye, or shampers [champagne] in their yachts before they write a cheque to political lobbies of their choice in flourishing democracies. This is the largest cash-flow of any business with effective supply lines, protection, managers, wholesalers, dealers, criminals and profiteers on various rungs of the ladder before it reaches the victim. Such a volume of trade cannot be hidden. It travels through land and sea, on trucks and ships. Can you name a single instance in which a supply operation has been busted by Nato, which has 37,000 troops in Afghanistan? When asked, Nato’s commanders blandly reply that destroying the drug trade is not part of their mission. Thus is the corrosive price of war, paid from the blood that flows on the battlefield to the heroin that courses through young veins.

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