NATO forces to target Afghan heroin trade to curb Talibans growing influence

October 11th, 2008 - 2:05 pm ICT by ANI  


Washington , Oct 11 (ANI): In a bid to check the funding of the Taliban by heroin networks in Afghanistan , defence ministers of the 26 NATO countries have reportedly reached a compromise agreement to launch counter-narcotics operations on the Taliban network.

The deal, agreed upon on the call given by US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates, has been described by the Pentagon as critical to beating back a resurgent Taliban, and allows some members of the military alliance to opt out of counter-narcotics operations.

Gates call, backed by Britain , had urged upon the NATO allies to begin striking drug traffickers who were a key source of funding for the Talibans increasingly lethal insurgency. According to Gates estimates, as much as 80 million dollars a year flows into the Talibans coffers from the drug trade.

But, some European countries, including Germany and Spain, said that drug interdiction was beyond their mandate in Afghanistan and could incite Afghans who depend on income from growing opium poppies, reported the Washington Post.

The agreement allows some to do things that others did not want to do. It’’s better than nothing. You will see more willing to do this in the south than in other parts of the country. . . . I think obviously the United States and the U.K. are interested in doing this. I think there are several others who would, Gates told reporters recently.

The vast majority of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan occurs in seven southern provinces, areas patrolled by US, British, Canadian and Dutch forces. The NATO agreement allows its troops to act after receiving a request from the Afghans and does not require any change in the alliance’’s operational plan in Afghanistan .

Meanwhile, Afghan officials supported the stepped-up NATO role in fighting the drug trade. Weve asked NATO to please support us, Gen. Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan ‘’s defense minister, told reporters in Budapest on Thursday after meeting with his NATO counterparts. (ANI)

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