Cultivation of Opium Poppies Are Flourishing in Afghanistan Since the US/NATO Occupation Over the Last Five Years
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PANW Editor's Note: The US invasion of Afghanistan was launched five years ago today. Despite the rhetoric of the Bush administration about fighting the so-called "war of terrorism", the security situation in Afghanistan is far worse than before the American intervention. This war has lasted longer than US military involvement in World War II (1941-1945).
At present the people of Afghanistan are rising up against US/NATO occupation. More American and NATO troops are being killed on a daily basis. This war is loss as it has been in Iraq. The anti-war movement in the United States and Canada must step up its efforts to end the US/NATO reign of terror against the people of Afghanistan and to bring the troops back to these imperialist countries now.
In Afghanistan the cultivation of poppy crops and consequent heroin export has reached an all time high. This is reflected in the new outbreak of herion addiction and overdoses on the streets of the United States and other western capitals. There has been a long history of US military and intelligence involvement in the narcotics trade. Evidence is accumulating that this same situation is manifesting itself in Afghanistan today some five years after the American occupation.
Below are several articles and statements related to the ongoing Afghan tragedy that has been engineered by the US military. The articles, even those initially printed in the corporate press, illustrate that Karzai of Afghanistan is merely a puppet for American imperialist interests throughout south Asia.
Karzai for jirga to crush Taleban
By Ahmed Rashid, Kabul
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he wants to hold a jirga (council) of Pashtun tribes from Pakistan and Afghanistan to end Taleban violence.
The two countries disagree on how to fight the Taleban - mostly drawn from the Pashtun tribes- on their border.
Mr Karzai said he expected both he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to attend the meeting by the year-end.
Afghan ministers and officials are however concerned that such a meeting may be "manipulated" by Pakistan.
"I am thinking of a meeting between Afghan civil society, Afghan elders, tribal chiefs, clergy and Afghan spiritual leadership plus the intellectuals. From the Pakistan side I am hoping for the same thing," Mr Karzai told this correspondent in an exclusive interview.
"It should be a gathering of the people from one end of the Afghan border with Pakistan to the other end."
Mr Karzai said the jirga would attempt to revive Pashtun civil society on both sides of the border in order to combat what he called the growing Talebanisation of the region.
"The traditional secular Pashtun leadership of Pakistan has been undermined systematically and violently," said Mr Karzai.
"The killing of 150 Pashtun leaders in North Waziristan is a clear indication of that. This can only stop if we support civil society," he said.
The Afghan president said that if Pakistan was transparent about the jirga, it could bring peace between the two countries.
"A jirga means representative and those not representative cannot be there or called to attend. Nobody can fake a jirga in Afghanistan...
and I hope there is similar transparency on the Pakistani side," Mr Karzai said.
Pakistan has long stated that it wants Afghanistan to recognise the Durand Line, the 240km-(1610 miles)-long border between the two countries.
Afghans say the British-drawn, colonial era border line robs Afghanistan of Pashtun territory now inside Pakistan. No Afghan government, including the Pashtun-dominated Taleban regime which was recognised by Pakistan, has felt strong enough to recognise the Durand Line.
Mr Karzai said a joint commission could be set up with United Nations help between the two countries, which would decide on who would be eligible to sit in the jirga and the modalities of the meeting among other things.
Mr Karzai said the jirga plan was suggested by him at last week's dinner meeting hosted by President George W Bush for him and Gen Musharraf.
This correspondent learns that Gen Musharraf first hesitated at the suggestion.
But after Mr Bush said it was a good idea and the US government would support the idea, Gen Musharraf gave his tentative agreement.
Mr Karzai would like to involve the international community in monitoring the jirga.
It is learnt that most Western countries support the idea but are reluctant to become involved in what they describe as "complex tribal meetings", between two countries which are both allies of the West in the war on terror, but are also deeply antagonistic to each other.
However, many Pashtuns and non-Pashtun Afghans have expressed concerns about the jirga plan.
They fear the meeting would allow Pakistan to infiltrate
"Taleban ideas through the backdoor".
Several cabinet ministers interviewed by this correspondent said the meeting would be "manipulated by Islamabad for its own ends".
"What happens if the Pakistani nominees to the jirga declare jihad against Mr Karzai and the Americans," said one minister, who asked not be named.
Younis Qanooni, the speaker of the Afghan parliament, said it would be "more productive if parliamentary delegations between the two countries met more often rather than have the jirga".
During the interview, Mr Karzai said he felt anguish about the continuing attacks by the Taleban - some 4,000 people had died in Taleban-related violence this year.
Senior Nato and Afghan officials say that Taleban fighters were being actively helped by Pakistan, a charge Pakistan denies.
A Nato and Afghan army intelligence report after the two-week long Operation Medusa launched by Nato in Kandahar province in mid-September, in which they say 1,100 Taleban were killed, shows undeniable help to the Taleban from Pakistan, according to senior Nato and Afghan officials.
The report says the Taleban had collected one million rounds of ammunition in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province before the fighting.
The fighters had fired off some 2,000 rocket propelled grenades and 1,000 mortar shell during the battle, the report says.
The cost of Taleban ammunition stocks alone before the battle were estimated at $5m - such money and preparations would be impossible without outside support, the Nato and Afghan officials say.
Mr Karzai is hopeful that the jirga will improve relations between the two governments and more importantly the Pashtuns on both sides, which in turn will isolate the Taleban.
"No ethnic group or nation in the world is by its own nature radical," said Mr Karzai.
"Extremism makes them suffer that's why governments must stop using this. Afghanistan's stability and peace and prosperity is in the interests of Pakistan."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/10/06 11:59:41 GMT
Mental disorders plague more Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans in US
The Associated Press
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2006
WASHINGTON More than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans seeking medical treatment from the Veterans Health Administration report symptoms of stress or other mental disorders — a tenfold increase in the last 18 months, according to an agency study.
The dramatic jump in cases — coming as more troops face multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — has triggered concern among some veterans groups that the agency may not be able to meet the demand. They say veterans have had to deal with long waits for doctor appointments, staffing shortages and lack of equipment at medical centers run by the Veterans Affairs Department.
Contributing to the higher levels of stress are the long and often repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, troops also face unpredictable daily attacks and roadside bombings as they battle the stubborn insurgency.
Veterans and Defense Department officials said the increase in soldiers complaining of stress or mental disorder symptoms also may suggest that efforts to reduce the stigma of such problems are working and that commanders and medical personnel are more adept at recognizing symptoms.
"It's definitely better than it was in past generations," said Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Veterans Affairs officials say they have increased funding for mental health services, have hired at least 100 more counselors and are not overwhelmed by the rising demands.
"We're not aware that people are having trouble getting services from us in any consistent way or pattern around the country," said Dr. Michael Kussman, acting undersecretary for health and top doctor at the VA.
Nearly 64,000 of the more than 184,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have sought VA health care were diagnosed with potential symptoms of post-traumatic stress, drug abuse or other mental disorders as of the end of June, according to the latest report by the Veterans Health Administration.
Of those, close to 30,000 had possible post-traumatic stress disorder, said the report.
The Government Accountability Office reported in February 2005 that just 6,400 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans had been treated for stress disorders. The office is an investigative agency of Congress.
Kussman said the numbers of people reporting symptoms of stress probably represent a "gross overestimation" of those actually suffering from a mental health disorder. Most of the troops who return from Iraq have "normal reactions to abnormal situations," such as flashbacks or trouble sleeping, Kussman said.
He said the returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans represent just 3.5 percent of the more than 5 million people seen by the VA each year.
The VA, he said, has targeted $300 million (€234 million) for post-traumatic stress disorders for 2005-06, and is seeking another $300 million for 2007.
VA facilities largely serve veterans who have ended their military service, but some National Guard and Reserve members returning from the war are using VA facilities because they are closer to their homes.
While veterans groups don't have data on the number of veterans encountering problems with the VA, they said veterans are reporting long delays for appointments at the agency's medical centers.
"If they're going to keep recruiting anywhere near where they need to be, they'd better take care of the young vets, because everyone is watching," Rieckhoff said.
One soldier in Virginia Beach, Virginia, said he was having a hard time sleeping after he returned from Iraq, and was told he'd have to wait two-and-a-half months for an appointment at the VA facility, said Rieckhoff.
Rieckhoff said the Buffalo, New York, veterans medical center gave his organization a "wish list" of needed supplies and other expenses, including wheelchairs, rehabilitation equipment and medical monitors.
"If the VA is going to see 30 percent of the 1.5 million U.S. service members who have deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the VA may expect a total of 450,000 veteran patients from these two wars," said Paul Sullivan, director of programs for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. "This is a very ominous trend, indicating a tidal wave of new patients coming in, and the numbers could go up."
The Defense Department has made mental health assessments and education programs mandatory for active-duty service members returning from the war. There are several dozen combat stress teams working with military units to prevent and identify stress or other mental health issues.
The department has also put a self-assessment screening on the Internet so military members can evaluate their symptoms.
Dr. Joyce Adkins, the Pentagon's director of stress management programs, said there has been a slight increase in the number of service members reporting mental health problems or symptoms.
"We've done a lot of education for service members at multiple times, to help them understand ... the common problems associated with deployment, the symptoms they might experience and what that might mean," she said.
On the Net:
Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil
Military Mental Health Self Assessment Program: https://http://www.militarymentalhealth.org/
Drugs and CIA
Submitted by John Boly on Sun, 09/03/2006 - 12:30pm.
It's not just drugs in Afghanistan. Former Wall Street Journal reporter Alexander Cockburn has written an excellent study with Jeffrey St. Clair entitled "Whiteout." They offer well-researched evidence that since the end of WWII, the CIA has organized, supervised, and protected the international drug trade as a means of financing its covert operations (such as overthrowing the democratically elected governments, whether in Iran in the early 'fifties, Nicaragua in the 'eighties, or Venezuela in the present.)
Even more chilling, Cockburn and St. Clair provide vivid proof of how the mainstream American media has knowingly hushed up the whole thing. Any journalist who wants to put a swift end to his or her career need only write an expose of the CIA-drug connection. Example: Gary Webb, who proved that the CIA was behind the crack-cocained plauge that hit LA in the 'nineties and then spread to the rest of the country.
Follow the money
Submitted by wastedspace.com on Sun, 09/03/2006 - 6:53pm.
The book The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia by Alfred McCoy, first published in 1972, documents the CIA's involvement in running drugs around the globe since WWII. Reporter Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" series of stories, published in the Los Angeles Times in 1996, along with Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press by Alexander Cockburn, update the story with details of CIA drug trafficking used to finance covert operations in Central America. The Iran Contra hearings also revealed some of this stuff, so it's pretty much on the record, and yet the mainstream press won't touch the subject with a ten foot pole--what happened to Gary Webb still serves as a powerful object lesson to journalists everywhere. Regaining control of the nearly entire world supply of opium was probably as critical to the invasion of Afghanistan as gaining control of Iraq's oil reserves was to toppling Saddam Hussein.