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The Drug-Crime-Terror Triangle

Dilip Ghosh


A recently released UN report has claimed that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan on which the narco-terrorism from Pakistan-Afghanistan borders thrives, has dropped by 22 per cent in the past one year. The Afghan Opium Survey 2009 conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also showed a drop in both drug production and trafficking for the second year in a row.

Drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan is believed to be an important source of funding for the Taliban. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, while releasing the survey in Kabul, said: ‘‘A marriage of convenience between insurgents and criminal groups is spawning narco-cartels in Afghanistan linked to the Taliban.’’  He cautioned that despite recent progress, Afghan drugs still had catastrophic consequences.

The drug money laundered in collusion with corrupt government officials is finding its way into the banks in the Gulf and farther afield. Incidentally, Afghanistan caters to 90 per cent of the global demand for heroine and other drugs. The report said that out of the total of the country’s 34 provinces, the number of poppy-free provinces has increased from 18 to 20 since 2007.

The success has been attributed to the continuing drive by Afghan and NATO forces against poppy cultivation in Helmand province, the stronghold of the Taliban and against drug production, the factories for which are mostly located in the northern part of the country. Another big factor in bringing down the acreage under poppy cultivation is the NATO-aided ‘‘food zone programme’’ executed in Helmand since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The governor of the province claimed that he had been distributing wheat seeds under the programme to 32,000 households every year.

The authorities in Pakistan also claimed to have been continuing their drive against poppy cultivation.

Despite this, however, there is no indication of either poppy cultivation or drug trade coming down.

Instead, the poppy cultivation in the three hilly districts of Kohistan, Upper Gir and Gadoon in North West Frontier Province has shown an upsurge.

In India, satellite images of Jammu and Kashmir taken by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in July this year revealed that southern parts of Jammu & Kashmir such as Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Banihal, Udhampur and border belt in Poonch and Rajouri regions are being extensively used for illegal poppy cultivation. NCB’s Zonal Director for Jammu region MK Sharma says: “Some militant groups have their involvement in this illicit cultivation. During a destruction operation conducted in Anantnag and Pulwama districts in 2007, police forces encountered some firing from that area. So we cannot rule out that the firing was by militants.”

The Narcotics Commissioner of the Central Bureau for Narcotics, Jagjit Pavadia, however, has a different view.  Replying to the question from newsmen whether militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is being funded through narcotics trade, he said, “It is true that we destroy illicit cultivation but we have no evidence to suggest that cultivation is being done by any particular militant group in the State.” 
While opinion is divided on whether there is narco-terrorism in India, there was no two opinions about the disastrous consequences of the narco-trade on the society. Narcotics have become the foundation of organized crime. All kinds of illegal activity, including distribution of territory to pickpockets, flesh trade and bootlegging, are controlled by narco-traders. 

The law-and-order machinery, the political parties and the bureaucracy — all succumb to the awesome money power of narco-traders, and this bullying by money power amounts to terrorism. Real estate, foreign exchange rackets, import-export transactions, films, stock markets, all forms of trading where the money involved is large are the secondary operations of narco-terrorists. Money laundering is an essential part of the narcotics trade which is often ignored by the enforcement agencies. Yet another area of concern is that narco-trade attracts millions of frustrated unemployed youth and also those who want to make a fast buck.

Narco-trade attracting unemployed youth has come handy to the ISI which is bent on establishing its hold on the subcontinent. But, with the militancy coming down in the Kashmir valley in the last two-three years due to concentrated operations of the security forces, things have changed.  Besides seizing large consignments of drugs, the Excise Department, in collaboration with the State Police, has recently carried out destruction of poppy crops on a large scale in Pulwama, Badgam, Shopian and Anantnag districts. This apart, the services of the imams of mosques in these districts are being requisitioned. They are requested to give sermons denouncing the cultivation of poppy and hemp during the Friday prayers. Such continuing pressure has forced Pakistan to open different fronts for operation. The ISI has now established a base in Nepal, which is being used to smuggle drugs and terrorists into India. Dilip Ghosh


A recently released UN report has claimed that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan on which the narco-terrorism from Pakistan-Afghanistan borders thrives, has dropped by 22 per cent in the past one year. The Afghan Opium Survey 2009 conducted by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also showed a drop in both drug production and trafficking for the second year in a row.

Drug production and trafficking in Afghanistan is believed to be an important source of funding for the Taliban. UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa, while releasing the survey in Kabul, said: ‘‘A marriage of convenience between insurgents and criminal groups is spawning narco-cartels in Afghanistan linked to the Taliban.’’  He cautioned that despite recent progress, Afghan drugs still had catastrophic consequences.

The drug money laundered in collusion with corrupt government officials is finding its way into the banks in the Gulf and farther afield. Incidentally, Afghanistan caters to 90 per cent of the global demand for heroine and other drugs. The report said that out of the total of the country’s 34 provinces, the number of poppy-free provinces has increased from 18 to 20 since 2007.

The success has been attributed to the continuing drive by Afghan and NATO forces against poppy cultivation in Helmand province, the stronghold of the Taliban and against drug production, the factories for which are mostly located in the northern part of the country. Another big factor in bringing down the acreage under poppy cultivation is the NATO-aided ‘‘food zone programme’’ executed in Helmand since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The governor of the province claimed that he had been distributing wheat seeds under the programme to 32,000 households every year.

The authorities in Pakistan also claimed to have been continuing their drive against poppy cultivation.

Despite this, however, there is no indication of either poppy cultivation or drug trade coming down.

Instead, the poppy cultivation in the three hilly districts of Kohistan, Upper Gir and Gadoon in North West Frontier Province has shown an upsurge.

In India, satellite images of Jammu and Kashmir taken by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in July this year revealed that southern parts of Jammu & Kashmir such as Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Banihal, Udhampur and border belt in Poonch and Rajouri regions are being extensively used for illegal poppy cultivation. NCB’s Zonal Director for Jammu region MK Sharma says: “Some militant groups have their involvement in this illicit cultivation. During a destruction operation conducted in Anantnag and Pulwama districts in 2007, police forces encountered some firing from that area. So we cannot rule out that the firing was by militants.”

The Narcotics Commissioner of the Central Bureau for Narcotics, Jagjit Pavadia, however, has a different view.  Replying to the question from newsmen whether militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is being funded through narcotics trade, he said, “It is true that we destroy illicit cultivation but we have no evidence to suggest that cultivation is being done by any particular militant group in the State.” 
While opinion is divided on whether there is narco-terrorism in India, there was no two opinions about the disastrous consequences of the narco-trade on the society. Narcotics have become the foundation of organized crime. All kinds of illegal activity, including distribution of territory to pickpockets, flesh trade and bootlegging, are controlled by narco-traders. 

The law-and-order machinery, the political parties and the bureaucracy — all succumb to the awesome money power of narco-traders, and this bullying by money power amounts to terrorism. Real estate, foreign exchange rackets, import-export transactions, films, stock markets, all forms of trading where the money involved is large are the secondary operations of narco-terrorists. Money laundering is an essential part of the narcotics trade which is often ignored by the enforcement agencies. Yet another area of concern is that narco-trade attracts millions of frustrated unemployed youth and also those who want to make a fast buck.

Narco-trade attracting unemployed youth has come handy to the ISI which is bent on establishing its hold on the subcontinent. But, with the militancy coming down in the Kashmir valley in the last two-three years due to concentrated operations of the security forces, things have changed.  Besides seizing large consignments of drugs, the Excise Department, in collaboration with the State Police, has recently carried out destruction of poppy crops on a large scale in Pulwama, Badgam, Shopian and Anantnag districts. This apart, the services of the imams of mosques in these districts are being requisitioned. They are requested to give sermons denouncing the cultivation of poppy and hemp during the Friday prayers. Such continuing pressure has forced Pakistan to open different fronts for operation. The ISI has now established a base in Nepal, which is being used to smuggle drugs and terrorists into India.