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Resurgence in drug trafficking embarrassment to Afghanistan: Karzai
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | September 27, 2006 02:21 IST
Apparently it's not just the resurgence of the Taliban that's giving Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai a splitting migraine -- it's also the poppy cultivation which has made a huge comeback in his country leading to illegal narcotics trafficking once again becoming a veritable cottage industry, which in turn is helping to fund the Taliban.
This issue, which Karzai acknowledged was "an embarrassment to Afghanistan," was one of the top priority issues that figured in his two-hour meeting with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday.
At the joint news conference with Bush in the East Room of the White House, Karzai said, "It is a problem. It is an embarrassment to Afghanistan. We feel very much embarrassed for having narcotics growing in our country."
"But again," he explained, "it has come to Afghanistan because of years of desperation and lack of hope for tomorrow."
Karzai spoke of Afghan families he's familiar with "who destroy their pomegranate orchards or vineyards to replace them with poppies because they did not know if they were going to have children the next day, if they were going to be in their own country the next day or if they were going to see their homes standing the next day."
"It has become a reality because of droughts and years of misery," he said. "We have worked on the problem, and in some areas of the country we have succeeded, in other areas of the country we have failed because of the circumstances and because of our own failures."
Karzai said he had discussed this problem in all its manifestations with President Bush and vowed that "we will continue to be very steadfast. It is Afghanistan's problem, so Afghanistan is responsible for it and Afghanistan should act on it with the help of our friends in the United States and the rest of the world."
Bush acknowledged that this figured in the discussions and said Karzai "gave me very direct assessments of successes in eradicating poppies and failures in eradicating poppies."
"It was a realistic assessment of the conditions on the ground," he said and added, "he talked about his strategy, particulary in the Helmand Province," and assured Karzai that "Mr President we will support you on this strategy.We understand what you understand and we have got to eradicate drug trade for the good of the people of Afghanistan."