Your preznit, November 10, 2004:
In Afghanistan, brave men and women have transformed a country and they have inspired our world.
Yes, the Brits and the UN have noticed how we’ve transformed Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a “narco-economy” and as such a likely breeding ground for terrorists, Britain admitted on Thursday, after the United Nations reported a 64 per cent increase in opium cultivation.
Three years after US-led forces ousted the Taliban, opium is the mainstay of the Afghan economy, accounting for more than 60 per cent of gross domestic product.
Britain, the lead nation in the anti-narcotics drive in Afghanistan, admitted that there was a risk of the opium boom re-creating the conditions that the “war against terror” was supposed to eliminate.
Bill Rammell, the British foreign office minister responsible, said Afghanistan was a “narco-economy” and that the west needed to take urgent action.
“We have always held the view that if you have a narco-economy, those are the very conditions in which terrorism breeds,” he told a press conference in Brussels.
The UN’s drugs and crime office suggested that the lucrative poppy crop is one of the few things keeping the lawless country from falling further into anarchy and poverty.
“Narcotics are the main engine of economic growth and the strongest bond between previously quarrelsome people,” it said. The crop is now grown in all 32 Afghan provinces.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN’s drugs office, said Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives near the Pakistan border might be among those profiting from the drugs trade.
“The fear that Afghanistan might degenerate into a narco-state is slowly becoming a reality, as corruption in the public sector, the die-hard ambition of local warlords and the complicity of local investors are becoming a factor in Afghan life,” he said.