Current Affairs

WikiLeaks: Is India Playing A Role In Narcotics Trade?

While states across India and Goa in particular, have been battling the menace of the growing narcotics business in the country; many of whom believe that the source of its origin is Afghanistan, Asif Ali Zardari, President, Government of Pakistan, accusing India of providing the precursor chemicals necessary to produce heroin to the Afghans, as revealed in the WikiLeaks Cablegate secret document of June 26, 2009 comes as shocker and also gives rise to serious questions on India’s stand in battling the menace of narcotics. But whether there is any truth to that statement will have to be further investigated.

Zardari further implies and states that, “Narcotics business is funding the Taliban in Afghanistan”. While Taliban has been under scrutiny for alleged involvements in terror-related activities, whether narcotics play a major role in fuelling its operations is still a question that the government authorities in US, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan would need to address.

However, while opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise over the last couple of years, statistics reveal that this has been since the downfall of the Taliban in 2001. Based on United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data, there has been more poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004–2007) than in any one year during Taliban rule.

Afghanistan is considered to be the greatest illicit opium producer in the world, ahead of Burma (Myanmar) and the “Golden Triangle”. Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in “Golden Crescent”. Also, more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the opiates in the world market originated in Afghanistan. This amounts to an export value of about  USD 64 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords and drug traffickers. In the seven years (1994–2000) prior to a Taliban opium ban, the Afghan farmers’ share of gross income from opium was divided among 200,000 families. In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of hashish in the world.

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