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Afghan drug trade is Taliban’s lifeline
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, April 2
You can’t fight the Taliban without cutting its lifeline - the Afghan drug trade worth $ 730 million.

The assessment of Indian intelligence agencies is that the Taliban’s attack on Lahore’s police training school on Monday was the result of the ‘provocation’ caused by American decision to pump huge financial and military aid into Pakistan and Afghanistan in its war against terror.

“The NATO forces’ special drive to destroy opium cultivation in Taliban controlled Afghanistan and aerial attacks on its ‘safe haven’ in Pakistan’s tribal areas has also pushed the Taliban to carry out dare-devil attacks in Pakistan,” said high-ranking intelligence sources.

“Growing cooperation between America and the Pakistani army, police and civil administration has also irritated the Taliban,” sources said, attributing to information coming from across the border.

In 2008, Islamabad intensified counter-insurgency efforts, “but Pakistan’s record in dealing with militants has been mixed as it navigates conflicting internal and counter terrorist priorities,” points out a special document prepared by the US intelligence community for President Barack Obama.

Afghanistan’s Taliban-dominated terrorism machine causing havoc in Pakistan is now said to be operating like a smuggler’s cash-rich ‘export business house,’ generating enough money to take on super power America and its NATO allies. The kind of money that the Taliban has at its command from the Afghan drug business is mind-boggling.

The drug trade generates enough money for the Taliban to buy weapons to fight America and the NATO forces in Afghanistan and certain parts of Pakistan.

Despite a decrease in poppy cultivation in 2008, opium production in Afghanistan remains high, and the country produces over 90 per cent of the world’s supply. In 2008, farmers grew 157,300 hectares of poppy, potentially producing an estimated 7,700 metric tons of opium. The United Nations estimates that the total value to agricultural producers of Afghan opium in 2008 was $ 730 million. The entire Afghan drug trade is under the control of the Taliban and its Pakistani allies.

Growing cooperation between America and the Pakistani army, police and civil administration is also irritating the terrorist organisations. “We have cautioned our American counterparts that their war against the Taliban and the Al-Qaida in Pakistan is threatening to spill over into our territory also,” intelligence sources said. “The Lahore attack took place barely 12 km from the Wagah border”.

America is trying to convince Pakistanis that “it is your war”. While announcing $ 1.5 billion direct support to Pakistan every year over the next five years and unveiling his administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Barack Obama had said ; “Make no mistake: Al-Qaida and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within” CIA chief Leon Panetta recently visited Pakistan via India.

“An increase in US military assistance to Pakistan in the name of fight against terror is a major cause of concern to us”, a senior army officer said. “America wants to increase Pakistan’s air mobility by giving it gun ships to fight terrorist outfits in remote parts. But, like in the past, these helicopters will end up for use against India.”

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