24 May 2008 - POPPY ERADICATION STRENGTHENING THE TALIBAN, EXPERTS AGREE
Eradication efforts that “fail to hold out alternative livelihoods for Afghan farmers are only strengthening support for the Taliban” in the most unstable provinces of Afghanistan, argues a NATO Parliamentary Assembly report presented by British MP Hugh Bayley today (Saturday) at the Assembly’s Spring Session in Berlin. “The opium trade is fuelling insurgency, and insurgency, in turn, is driving up opium production”, explained Mr Bayley to the members of the Assembly’s Economics and Security Committee. “There is a growing agreement among experts that simple eradication and interdiction will not break this vicious cycle”. In addition, militarization of the counter-narcotic effort could result in additional civilian casualties and alienate local Afghan leaders who provide Alliance forces with intelligence on the Taliban.
Mr Bailey’s comments were echoed by Douglas Bereuter, President of the Asia Foundation, an American NGO supporting several governance, civil society and education projects in
Mr Bayley was also sceptical about the feasibility of other approaches, such as legalising the opium trade through direct purchase of poppies for the production of painkilling medicines, as the demand for such drugs would not match the production. Instead, his report called for a greater focus on rural development strategies. Experiences in
In conclusion, Mr Bayley strongly encouraged legislators from both
The NATO PA Spring Session, gathering some 340 national parliamentarians from the 26 NATO member countries, will meet for five days in