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October 8, 2021 » Today News » /

Taliban terrorist group set sights on Afghan drug underworld

Taliban terrorist group set sights on Afghan drug underworld

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  • LLL-GFATF-Taliban Taliban The Taliban ‎, alternatively spelled Taleban, is an Islamic fundamentalist political...[+]

 Affected Countries: afghanistan;

Now the uncontested rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban have set their sights on stamping out the scourge of narcotics addiction, even if by force.

At nightfall, the battle-hardened fighters-turned-policemen scour the capital’s drug-ravaged underworld. Below Kabul’s bustling city bridges, amid piles of garbage and streams of filthy water, hundreds of homeless men addicted to heroin and methamphetamines are rounded up, beaten and forcibly taken to treatment centers. The Associated Press gained rare access to one such raid last week.

The scene provided a window into the new order under Taliban governance: The men — many with mental illness, according to doctors — sat against stone walls with their hands tied. They were told to sober up or face beatings.

The heavy-handed methods are welcomed by some health workers, who have had no choice but to adapt to Taliban rule. “We are not in a democracy anymore, this is a dictatorship. And the use of force is the only way to treat these people,” said Dr. Fazalrabi Mayar, working in a treatment facility. He was referring specifically to Afghans addicted to heroin and meth.

Soon after the Taliban took power on Aug. 15, the Taliban Health Ministry issued an order to these facilities, underscoring their intention to strictly control the problem of addiction, doctors said.

Bleary-eyed and skeletal, the detained encompass a spectrum of Afghan lives hollowed out by the country’s tumultuous past of war, invasion and hunger. They were poets, soldiers, merchants, farmers. Afghanistan’s vast poppy fields are the source of the majority of the world’s heroin, and the country has emerged as a significant meth producer. Both have fueled massive addiction around the country.

Old or young, poor or once well-off, the Taliban view the addicts the same: A stain on the society they hope to create. Drug use is against their interpretation of Islamic doctrine. Addicts are also stigmatized by the wider, largely conservative Afghan community.

But the Taliban’s war on drugs is complicated as the country faces the prospect of economic collapse and imminent humanitarian catastrophe.

Sanctions and lack of recognition have made Afghanistan, long an aid-dependent country, ineligible for the financial support from international organizations that accounted for 75% of state spending. An appalling human rights record, especially with respect to women, has rendered the Taliban unpopular among international development organizations.

A liquidity crisis has set in. Public wages are months in arrears and drought has exacerbated food shortages and disease. Winter is weeks away. Without foreign funds, government revenues rely on customs and taxation.

The illicit opium trade is intertwined with Afghanistan’s economy and its turmoil. Poppy growers are part of an important rural constituency for the Taliban, and most rely on the harvest to make ends meet.

During the insurgency years, the Taliban profited from the trade by taxing traffickers, a practice applied on a wide variety of industries in the areas under their control. Research by David Mansfield, an expert on the Afghan drug trade, suggests the group made $20 million in 2020, a small fraction compared to other sources of revenue from tax collection. Publicly, it has always denied links to the drug trade.

But the Taliban also implemented the only largely successful ban on opium production, between 2000-2001, before the U.S. invasion. Successive governments have failed to do the same.

Police roundups of addicts did occur during previous administrations. But the Taliban are more forceful and feared.

On a recent evening, fighters raided a drug den under a bridge in the Guzargah area of Kabul. With cables for whips and slung rifles, they ordered the group of men out of their fetid quarters. Some came staggering out, others were forced to the ground. The sudden clinking of lighters followed another order to hand over belongings; the men preferred to use up all the drugs they possessed before they were confiscated.

One man struck a match beneath a piece of foil, his sunken cheeks deepening as he sucked in the smoke. He stared blankly into the distance.

Another man was reluctant. “They are vitamins!” he pleaded.

Taliban fighter Qari Fedayee was tying up the hands of another.

“They are our countrymen, they are our family and there are good people inside of them,” he said. “God willing, the people in the hospital will be good with them and cure them.”

An elderly, bespectacled man raised his voice. He is a poet, he announced, and if they let him go he will never use drugs again. He scribbled verses on a piece of paper to prove his point. It didn’t work.

Source: AP News

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