GT Voice: Taliban’s Drugs Ban Hinges on Regional Cooperation

Taliban’s drugs ban hinges on regional cooperation

By Global Times

Aug 31, 2021 08:28 PM

US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch as troops move a case containing the remains of Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California, during a casualty return on Sunday, at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. According to the Department of Defense, Nikoui died in an attack at Afghanistan's Kabul airport, along with 12 other US service members. Photo: AP

Despite the cold water poured by the Western media, the Taliban's pledge to ban drugs in Afghanistan may actually rest on its cooperation with other regional countries, in cracking down on drug trafficking activities and seeking to invest on alternative industries to provide jobs for ordinary Afghans. 

Ever since Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid promised at a recent press conference that the next Afghan government would not allow any narcotics production and trade, some Western media outlets have been eager to highlight how difficult it will be for the Taliban to deliver on its anti-drug promise.

According to a report published by the Washington Post, Afghanistan's production of opium had flourished after the 2001 US-led invasion. Despite US-backed eradication efforts estimated to cost $9 billion over the past two decades, the country's opium production peaked at an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

Given the fact that a good number of Afghan farmers depend on opium cultivation to earn a living, it is indeed not an easy for the Taliban to ban drugs in the country. But Western media claims that because the US didn't eradicate drugs in Afghanistan, neither can the Taliban, is a clear indication of the West's narrow-minded attitude toward the reconstruction of the Afghan economy.

The US has stumbled on its own misjudgment over Afghanistan, and it clearly doesn't want to see any improvement in the country that will only make its debacle there look even more incompetent. Such mindset might also explain why the US rushed to freeze funds belonging to the Afghan central bank. 

Politicians in Washington believe that economic sanctions against one of the world's least developed countries may help the US regain some face over their Afghanistan pullout chaos and embarrassment, but it is another reminder of the untrustworthiness and selfishness of Washington's political elite.

The Taliban's anti-drug effort may not succeed without vigorously developing battered Afghan economy to explore more sources of national wealth, which requires international economic cooperation to propel the country's reconstruction after the 20-year-long war. 

Cooperation between regional neighbors should play a major part in assisting Afghanistan's economy to develop rapidly, because Afghanistan's political and economic stability is closely linked to the interests of its neighboring countries. For instance, if the Taliban cannot find alternative industries to sustain a stable flow of revenues, it won't be able to wean itself off opium production and drug trafficking. And, the US and its allies have inescapable responsibility to help Afghanistan to get ride off drugs trade.

It should be noted that the fight against the illicit drug trade requires concerted efforts from all neighboring countries, and guided by the UN.

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