After three years under a pro-U.S. government, Afghanistan stands "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state," according to a recent State Department report.
In a presidential report, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed Congress that the area of Afghanistan devoted to cultivation of the opium poppy -- the raw material of heroin -- has more than tripled, to 510,000 acres, since 2003.
The report estimates Afghanistan's current annual opium production at 5,445 tons, some 17 times more than second-place Myanmar.
Covering illegal drug activities in virtually all countries, the report "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2005" finds that ongoing dangerous security conditions in Afghanistan make, "implementing counternarcotics (CN) programs difficult and present a substantial obstacle to both poppy eradication efforts by the national government and to international efforts to provide related assistance."
The report estimates that from 40 to 60 percent of Afghanistan's total gross domestic product is now derived from the production and sale of illicit narcotics.
State Department officials hope that the continued stabilization of the Afghan government will help implement a five-point plan developed in 2004 designed to promote alternative crops for poppy farmers and enhance efforts in ground eradication and interdiction of heroin labs and storage facilities.
Specifically, the five-point plan includes the following:
The Bush administration has proposed the expenditure of $780 million to help implement and enforce the plan.
The report goes on to credit the adoption of a new constitution in January 2004 and the presidential election in October 2004 with further strengthening the Afghan governments authority. "Establishment of a national government, legitimized through democratic elections, has created the necessary prerequisites for the series of difficult actions necessary to reverse the deteriorating situation on the narcotics front. Parliamentary and district elections, currently scheduled for spring 2005, will further legitimize the Afghan Government."
The United States has committed $1.2 billion for 2005 toward the worldwide war on illegal drugs.
The entire State Department report on illicit drugs in Afghanistan can be found at: http://www.state.gov/g/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2005/vol1/html/42366.htm