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Enormous sum of money reuniting warlords, terrorists: Afghan envoy

Pak Tribune

WASHINGTON: Afghanistan's ambassador to the United States Said Tayeb Jawad has said the resulting availability of enormous sums of money has united warlords, criminal gangs and terrorist groups capable of wreaking havoc on freedom-loving people across the world.

In an extensive interview with Insight Magazine the 47-year-old diplomat assigned to Washington only a few months ago to represent his war-torn country said, "We must not allow this to happen". Adding that opium production fuels terrorism around the globe even as it encourages anarchy amongst Afghan people enslaved by rising drug habits and supports gangs such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda that are hell-bent on destroying the fragile democracy emerging in Afghanistan.

The lessons learned by the United States and Afghan officials from their defeat of the Russians and subsequent infighting among Afghan factions that led to the rise and fall of the Taliban have been hard ones, Jawad says. "We have paid heavily for our mistakes," he says, and hopefully "the partnership between Afghans and Americans will endure for a long time."

"After the Soviets left, the energy that should have been focused on rebuilding Afghanistan and capitalizing on the victory over communism was dissipated or used for personal and factional gain. The Soviets were gone and their regime was defeated, but many more Afghans now lost their lives unnecessarily".

The danger that violence will erupt is still there, though the situation in Afghanistan has changed drastically. We see stronger commitment by the international community to stand with the moderate forces in Afghanistan., the ambassador said.

In response to a question he said, " We have experienced no re-emergence of the Taliban, but we are seeing some cross-border infiltration by foreign terrorists. Some of the terrorist groups have acquired more mobility and are going after such soft targets as U.N. employees.

While there have been attacks on Afghan and coalition military and civilian workers, these are not so widespread as before the Taliban were defeated".

Talking about the bumper crop of opium the Afghan ambassador said, "It is very unfortunate that the production of illegal drugs has increased, and it is a matter of serious concern to us and to the international community. Yes, it not only endangers the world community but it gravely endangers our national interest, penalizes our economy and prevents the reconstruction process that has started in Afghanistan".

"We are very concerned about this and we're asking the international community to provide the necessary assistance to help us create an effective law-enforcement apparatus to deal with it.

President [Hamid] Karzai recently signed a national drug strategy and we're training special police forces to fight narcotics. But we also need international support for crop substitution, and establishment of a national judicial system to put these criminals on trial and assure the people of Afghanistan that a new government is in control to protect its people.

We are trying to establish a rule of law and we are encouraging the religious institutions and religious councils to issue strong edicts and fatwas against cultivation of illegal drugs. But it will take time.

"We have all learned a great deal, and together we can rebuild Afghanistan to where free Afghans can govern themselves -- a beacon of light to other impoverished nations, confirming that there's hope of freedom for Muslim countries that can avoid the internal strife Afghans suffered before achieving the unity we're now experiencing.

It's been hard but well worth the struggle to stand on our own feet. This could not have happened without the support of the United States of America, and we are grateful", he said.

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