FNA, April 19, 2011

Afghan MP Unveils Western Forces’ Involvement in Drug Trafficking

Heroine-production labs in Helmand, which did not exist before the US-led war in Afghanistan, are now plentiful and work overtly

An Afghan lawmaker disclosed on Monday that the foreign forces deployed in Afghanistan are involved in the production and trafficking of illicit drugs in the country, adding that the British troops have even trained a number of experts for opium cultivation.

Nasimeh Niazi (third from left), with fellow MPs. (Photos: IDRC/Isabelle Bougeault-Tassť)

"As long as foreign forces are present in Afghanistan, the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs will continue in the country," Nasimeh Niazi told FNA.She also reiterated that Helmand province in southwestern Afghanistan has been transformed into a profitable center for foreign states to earn an expense fund for their deployment in the country.Heroine-production labs in Helmand, which did not exist before the US-led war in Afghanistan, are now plentiful and work overtly, Niazi added.Pointing to her recent trip to the Helmand province, she said during the trip foreign forces pretended that they were destroying opium poppy farms, but "I realized that they, in fact, destroyed some small farms whose owners were poor farmers who didn't have power and armed forces and had planted one or two hectares of opium poppy" to make a living."But those farms where poppies had been planted on several hectares of land and their owners had colluded with the foreign forces and the government were never destroyed," Niazi disclosed.Iran, which leads international efforts in fighting drug networks and narcotic traffickers according to the UN statistical figures, says that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001. While Afghanistan produced only 185 tons of opium per year under the Taliban, according to UN statistics, since the US-led invasion, drug production has surged to 3,400 tons annually. In 2007, the opium trade reached an estimated all-time production high of 8,200 tons. Afghan and Western officials blame Washington and NATO for the change, saying the allies have "overlooked" the drug problem for nine years since they invaded the country.

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