“Whether it’s terrorism or people who earn money with drugs – it’s the same networks,” Afghan drug enforcement minister General Khodaidad told ARD. “The German soldiers and NATO troops must take this into consideration and not try to get around it.”
German soldiers are currently banned from a targeted fight against drug traffickers by a government mandate.
While Bundeswehr troops operating under NATO in northern Afghanistan are doing a fine job, Khodaidad told ARD that his country needs and expects more assistance.
“The opium is landing on the streets,” he said, adding that it is the financial “fuel for terrorism.”
NATO has given countries participating in the Afghan peacekeeping mission a choice of whether they will engage in fighting drug traffickers. Unlike the US or the UK, Germany has chosen not to further endanger its troops by taking part.
The country is the world’s largest producer of raw opium, which is used to make heroin. Last year Afghanistan was responsible for 90 percent of the world’s opium products – despite a reduction in the number of producers.
Khodaidad told ARD he acknowledged the progress, but said the world must do more to help.
“In 2008, 18 of 35 Afghan provinces were opium free,” he said, adding that in 2009, three to four more provinces must be cleared, particularly those with a strong Taliban presence.