India slams UN Security Council for failing to cripple Taliban’s drug trade

India has slammed the United Nations Security Council for failing to cripple the Taliban’s roaring drug trade, saying the terror outfit gets significant support from criminal networks operating drug cartels and stealing Afghanistan’s natural resources.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, said at a Security Council debate on Afghanistan on Monday that the Secretary General’s current report also fails to address this very key issue in an adequate matter.

He expressed concern that while a Security Council resolution adopted earlier this year to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) does focus on linkages between extremism, terrorism, drug production and illegal exploitation of natural resources of Afghanistan, it falls short of expectations in striving to cripple the Taliban’s drug trade.

India called for crippling the illicit drug trade which provides financial sustenance to terror outfits like the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Akbaruddin said the agendas of these terror organisations draw financial sustenance not only from extortion and forced levies and taxes, but also benefit significantly from criminal networks operating drug cartels and stealing Afghanistan’s natural resources.

Citing estimates, he said 60 per cent of the Taliban’s revenues are from the drug trade and poppy cultivation is said to be the largest cash crop in Taliban-controlled areas.

He asserted that templates for curbing illicit trade by terrorist networks exist, saying that it is estimated that when targeted, the Islamic State’s oil revenue fell over three years by nearly 90 per cent from a monthly high of USD 50 million to just USD 4 million.

However by contrast, the opium produced in Taliban-controlled areas is estimated to account for 85 per cent of global illicit production, valued between USD 1.5 billion to USD 3 billion.

“We feel it is time for this Council to try and replicate the success of the international community against the Islamic State’s illicit business in Syria and Iraq by similarly crippling the Taliban’s illicit drug trade,” Akbaruddin said, adding that hopefully this important subject will be addressed by the Secretary General in his next report as well as by the Council.

He said that during the past few months, the international community has followed with hope and anticipation the various peace efforts and overtures by the Government and people of Afghanistan towards bringing peace to their war-torn country.

With parliamentary elections one month away and a major ministerial conference planned for November in Geneva, United Nation’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tasamichi Yamamoto briefed the Security Council, noting that “preparations are on track” but that many challenges lie ahead, including increased security concerns.

“It is a time for important decisions in Afghanistan,” he said.

First Published: Sep 18, 2018 18:50 IST

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