The future appears uncertain for Afghanistan following its takeover by the Taliban as US-led forces withdrew from the country after 20 years of occupation. As other nations continue to evacuate their citizens, the Central Asian country has been struck by political and humanitarian crises.
Taliban Want to End Drug Trafficking From Afghanistan, Seeking Russian Assistance, Official Says
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The new Afghan government formed by the Taliban* movement wants to cut off all the routes for drug trafficking from Afghanistan to other countries and is seeking Russian assistance in this issue, Zabihullah Mujahid, deputy minister of culture and information from the interim Afghan government, said in an interview with Sputnik.
"We want to stop the drug trafficking from Afghanistan to other countries. Hopefully, we will block all the routes. Planting cannabis in Afghanistan is also a serious problem. It is important to provide farmers with alternatives. In this regard, many countries, including Russia, could assist in cutting off the routes of drug trafficking", Mujahid said.
The official also noted that the new Afghan government is not seeking the extradition of former President Ashraf Ghani but wants to return the funds allegedly taken by him.
Last month, Ghani left Kabul for the United Arab Emirates after the Afghan was seized by the Taliban.
"No, we are not seeking the extradition of Ghani. But Ashraf Ghani has stolen state funds and we demand that they must be returned to the bank. They belong to people and our banks", Mujahid said.
According to different estimates, the volume of illegal opiate production has surged from anywhere between 17 to 40 times since 2001, when US troops entered Afghanistan. The US has spent $8.6 billion since then fighting drug production in Afghanistan, however, the country remains the world's largest producer of opium
According to a 2017 SIGAR (Special Inspector General of Afghanistan Reconstruction) report, in Afghanistan, 328,000 hectares of land was used for opium poppy cultivation, up 63 percent compared to the previous year (2016) which was the highest rate since 2002.
15 March 2018, 20:29 GMT
The SIGAR report additionally shows that of the amount of opium produced in Afghanistan last year, 900 tonnes of pure, export-quality heroin can be produced, which could serve as an incentive for the expansion of combat zones throughout Afghanistan.
*The Taliban is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and many other nations.