Azerbaijan, Baku, 3 October / Trend corr. D.Khatinoglu/Exclusive interview of the Trend Persian Service with Afghanistan's Minister for Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad.
Question: According to the UN report, 93% of opium and 92% of heroin was produced in Afghanistan in 2006. What success has Afghanistan achieved on struggle against drugs production this year?
Answer: We achieved prevention of drugs production in 3 provinces of Afghanistan in 2005, 6 provinces in 2005, 13 provinces in 2007, and 18 provinces this year with the support of the people and Afghan mojaheds. Cultivation of narcotic plants fell 13% this year from last year. That is the achievement of the people and the Ministry of Counter Narcotics. Bedehshan, Great and Feryab provinces have been almost completely freed from drugs.
We have launched a large campaign with the support of international organizations to prevent cultivation of poppies. The campaign envisages complete elimination of drugs production in other 18 provinces of Afghanistan. We have achieved good results and the process will go on.
Question: International mafia engaged in drugs trafficking have been recently frequently reported to operate in Afghanistan. Rumours have it that the mafia has connections with several MPs. Which measures are being taken in this connection?
Answer: It is natural that mafia and countless swindlers occur in a country in which drugs are cultivated, opium and heroin is produced. We deny connection between Afghanistan's high-ranking officials and the mafia, but there are local and foreign smugglers. Police, the Ministry of National Security and the courts of Afghanistan take their utmost to make them answerable.
We simultaneously use the methods of encouragement and punishment to neutralize the mafia operating both in the country and outside. The Special Counter Narcotics Prosecutor's Office is currently considering 1,500 criminal cases. The punishment envisages from 6 to 18 years of imprisonment and criminals serve their sentences.
Question: Senlis Council, the international organization for investigation of drugs trafficking, questioned in its report the figures presented by the Ministry of Counter Narcotics of Afghanistan and UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) this year. What is your attitude towards the statements?
Answer: The current year reports of the Afghanistan Ministry of Counter Narcotics and UNODC are really considerable achievements for the Afghan people. However, several foreign organizations do not agree with the information.
Besides 18 provinces in which there is zero drugs cultivation, the provinces of Bedehshan, Gerat and Feryab have been also completely cleaned from drugs. But we did not note this in the published report. In fact, we have made much more. There is no poppy cultivation in 21 out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government and the people are satisfied with the precision of our report. We flatly deny the statements by the organizations such as Senlis. Their claims are of no importance for us.
Question: Are you satisfied with the security cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran and other neighbouring countries considered to be transit points for further transportation of drugs?
Answer: the Afghan Government signed an agreement on cooperation with Iran at the Iran-Afghanistan, Iran-Pakistan and Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, but unfortunately no practical arrangements have been made.
However, we still hope for cooperation with Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine and even Azerbaijan and Turkey on information exchange security and we will implement joint operations. That stipulates for regional cooperation and mutual understanding with neighbouring countries.
Question: Are you satisfied with the assistance rendered by international financial organizations for struggle against drugs in Afghanistan, particularly for creation of sound agriculture instead of cultivation of poppies. How do the local farmers treat the projects?
Answer: The initiative project GPI developed by the US Government to establish sound agriculture instead of poppy cultivation, which is worth $8mln, is very encouraging. We commenced implementation of the project jointly with the heads of provinces, MPs, members of the Province Council and the employees of other adequate organizations. The US Government rendered financial aid to us for this purpose and that is praiseworthy. However, we hope other countries and international organizations will assist us and will help the Afghan people to fulfil infrastructural, agricultural and social projects to prevent cultivation of drugs. The problem covered all countries in the world and the international community is responsible to solve it.
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