India slams UN inaction on drug trade that puts $1 bn in Taliban coffers
By Arul Louis,
United Nations : India has criticised the world body for not doing enough to cut off the drug trade that is financing the Taliban with over a billion dollars as it continues its military operations with the support of Afghanistan’s neighbour.
Terrorist organisations operating in Afghanistan “benefit significantly from criminal networks operating drug cartels and stealing Afghanistan’s natural resources”, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council on Monday during a debate on the situation there.
“The opium produced in Taliban-controlled areas is estimated to account for 85 per cent of global illicit production, valued between $1.5 billion to $3 billion,” he said.
“By some estimates, 60 per cent of the Taliban’s revenues are from the drug trade. Poppy cultivation is said to be the largest cash crop in Taliban-controlled areas,” he added.
Yet the UN has not given adequate attention to the drug trade that is financing the Taliban and other terrorist organisations, Akbaruddin said.
While a Security Council resolution earlier in 2018 focused on the nexus of terrorism, drugs and illegal exploitation of natural resources in Afghanistan, it fell “short of expectations in striving to cripple the Taliban’s drug trade”, he said.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ current report “also fails to address this very key issue in an adequate manner”, he added.
Akbaruddin cited the experience of combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria where international action cut off its oil trade, reducing it by about 90 per cent, from about $50 million per month to $4 million, over three years.
This successful international campaign against the Islamic State should be replicated in Afghanistan against the Taliban’s drug trade, he said.
Without mentioning Pakistan by name, Akbaruddin hit out against Islamabad for providing safe havens for terrorists to plan and carry out their attacks.
“These sanctuaries have, for years, provided safety for the dark agendas of ideologically and operationally-fused terror networks like the Taliban, Haqqani network, Daesh, Al Qaeda and its proscribed affiliates such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed,” he said.
Akbaruddin said that India was committed to helping Afghanistan and its “focus remains on the economic pillar of stability and reliable connectivity”.
He said: “We strongly believe that lack of connectivity directly impacts the economic, security and political situation in Afghanistan and we want to address this crucial issue for the benefit of the Afghan people.”
India’s efforts to open a sea link for Afghanistan through the Chabahar port, which it is developing in Iran along with road and rail links for Afghanistan, is in peril because US President Donald Trump has reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
If India is not able to use the port or develop it further, it would seriously set back the connectivity that Afghanistan badly needs for its economic growth.
(Arul Louis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)