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Embassy Briefs Congressional Staff on Afghanistan’s Counter-Narcotics Strategy

Political Counselor M. Ashraf Haidari briefed the U.S. Congressional staff on September 20 on the current state of counter-narcotics efforts in Afghanistan at the invitation of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Joseph Biden’s office.  Haidari discussed the international counter-narcotics efforts in the context of a recent United Nations report on drug production in Afghanistan and Afghanistan’s Third Annual National Counter-Narcotics Conference in August.    

  “Narcotics is first and foremost our problem, destroying the health and fabric of our society, undermining our nascent government institutions, strengthening the anti-government Taliban terrorists, and harming our national image in the international community,” Haidari stated. He identified the broader causes of increased drug production, focusing on the increasing global demand for narcotics.

“It is unfortunate that supply reduction efforts are not matched with demand reduction programs, nor is the international community cooperating enough to fight what in effect is a transnational problem—certainly not that of Afghanistan alone. The drug trade is eroding governance and fueling crime across the world. While poor Afghan sharecroppers get a fraction of the narcotics revenues in order to survive day to day, the illicit drug trade is a $38 billion enterprise on the streets of Europe and North America,” Haidari added.

Haidari recommended a more effective international interdiction effort targeting high value traffickers and countrywide long-term rural development programs backed by targeted, prioritized, and sequenced eradication campaigns.  He outlined these solutions in the context of Afghanistan’s comprehensive eight-pillar counter-narcotics strategy.

Haidari expressed the gratitude of the Afghan people to the US Congress for the support and commitment of the American people, and asked the Congress for long-term resources, patience, and legislating aid effectiveness measures to fight and eliminate drugs in Afghanistan. He said: “As appropriators of funding for counter-narcotics in Afghanistan, you can make a great difference in turning around the upward drug trends in my country. By allocating sustainable resources for the implementation of a balanced strategy, we will be able to rid Afghanistan of drugs in 10 years. However, we know from experience that pressure for quick results will lead to quick fixes that are at odds with Afghanistan’s long term reconstruction goals.”  

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