Afghanistan and narco-terrorism

Daily: The Nation
Date: 17.05.04

In the next century, when the history of this century will be written, a historian will be
prompted to write: “In the post-1991 era, the beneficiaries turned into dictators and started
dictating to their benefactors. Further, the former also tried to choose who was to be
favored, in one pretext or another, amongst the given two contestants belonging to the
latter. Moreover, the un-favorite was maligned at cost of the favorite contestant”.

The reference of the aforementioned conclusion would be not other than but to
Afghanistan. Today, Afghanistan is not only a battleground of favorite and un-favorite
contestants but also of the upside down turn of definitions. The un-favorite freedom fighters
of yesterday are called terrorists of today. These terrorists are bracketed with narcotics and
resultantly the concept of Narco-Terrorism is disseminated.

The human brain in the 21st century is bewildered as to why is the resistance movement in
Iraq against the ‘liberators’ called insurgency while its counterpart in Afghanistan is called
terrorism? One can answer that the resistance movement in Iraq has still not reached the
point where it can be declared terrorism. That point may flicker after June 30, 2004. Hence
the change of definition as per one’s sweet will!

By now, the human history has witnessed two phenomena: First, a defiant of one
superpower defies the next superpower; and secondly, the will of a superpower (the
occupier) cannot occupy the will of the occupied. If the will of the latter can be brought
under control, that will is called insurgency, otherwise terrorism. For terrorism, there is
continuing a ‘war on terrorism’—the universal solution.

In Afghanistan’s context, the term Narco-Terrorism depicts at least one feature: both
narcotics and terrorism are at one place. Any umbrella can be opened over the both.
However, the term is deficient enough to elucidate if there is any physical link between the
two constituents. As per common sense, the presence of both on one land does not mean
that they complement each other and that under one umbrella— a peddler-cum-abettor.

One of the major dilemmas of the post-1991 Afghanistan was absence of its international
voice through mass media. The self-esteem of an Afghan could not make him to even
question the ‘self’ of the beneficiaries. The ‘self’ out of which, at one end of Atlantic, a
missile defence shield was being created around the US to make its defence impregnable.
At the other end of it, Europe was becoming a Union to expand eastwards—beyond the
limits of the former Iron Curtain—to gain economic sufficiency. Both of the ends
(beneficiaries) meted out one conspicuous injustice to Afghanistan (benefactor) by
propagating it as a “failed state” rather than an abandoned state.

Afghanistan could have been abandoned by the international beneficiaries but not by its
neighbours like Pakistan who was also a beneficiary because of its presently intact
territorial integrity and independence. Hence, Pakistan had to engage Afghans, as it did by
convening Peshawar and Islamabad accords, besides accommodating Afghan refugees.
Moreover, because of historical and cultural links with the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan
could not extricate itself from its western neighbour’s affairs. Pakistan tried its best to
shoulder the moral liability. That is how; even the given porous border and the resultant to
and fro mass mobilization exonerate Pakistan from any drug money and trade.

There is one undeniable consensus: had there been no event of 9/11, the international
beneficiaries would have not been engaged in Afghanistan’s affairs. The recent attempts
under the neo-Marshall plan (The Bonn, Tokyo, and Berlin Conferences) would have been
a far cry. The positive is, now, that the liability has been shifted from Pakistan’s shoulders
to the international shoulders.

Interestingly, immediately after the event of 9/11, it was announced that al-Qaeda was
funding the Taliban government. However, now it is claimed that drugs were and are the
main funding source for the Taliban remnants, al-Qaeda groups, and Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami, who in turn want to topple down the Transitional Authority,
besides smashing the NATO’s efforts. In this way, all the three projected groups have been
brought in context of narcotics under one heading: opponents. Further, to all the three, one
common name is donated: terrorists. That is how the word opponents equate the word
terrorists and emerge as Narco-Terrorists.  

Every one understands the reality. Al-Qaeda was against the US. Talibans were not
handing over them to the US, out of their tradition of hospitality. Hezb-i-Islami was against
the Northern Alliance. Hence, all of them have been ruled out of the Transitional set up and
are being blamed of all the troubles and failures of the Transitional Authority. At the Berlin
Conference, the two words, drugs and terrorists, were brought together and intertwined with
each other to raise uproar to catch more funds and extend excuse of failures of the
commitments. Moreover, the Regional Cooperation Accord was signed during the recent
Berlin Conference to ensure neighbour’s assurance to combat drug trafficking and to
materialize the ‘Operation Containment’ of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of
the US.  

The nose-dive of production of opium in 2001 depicted commitment of Talibans to
eradicate opium crops. For that matter, interestingly, the intention of Taliban was read in
the following way: “In 2001, the Taliban banned the cultivation of opium poppy. The DEA
believes that the ban was likely an attempt by the Taliban to raise the price of opium which
had fallen significantly due to the abundant supply produced in years prior to 2001”. The
statement is a DEA Congressional Testimony on February 12, 2004 by Karen P Tandy, the
Administrator, before the Committee on International Relations, US House of
Representatives. In the sentence, the word “likely” is enough to presume intention of
Taliban. The same justifies today’s hue and cry regarding Narco-Terrorism. It means the
world has not, hitherto, learnt lessons from the issue of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction
(WMD) for which Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, even presented ‘proofs’ nowhere
but at the platform of the UN on February 5, 2003.

In the contemporary history of the world, there has been happened less damage by the
actual problem than by assumptions. These suppositions lead to misreading of the situation
and invite unexpected consequences, as being witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq alike. In
both the countries, despite heavy deployment of forces and money, the central authorities
are in trouble and are unwelcome. Hence, it seems that the world would be a better place to
live when the maligning trends and the assumptions would be over.

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