Updated: 30-Oct-2006 NATO Speeches


20 Jan. 2005

Video interview

with Dr. Habibullah Qaderi, Afghan Minister for Counter Narcotics

Audio file .MP3/2745Kb
Video interview

Q: Dr. Qaderi, you are the first ever minister of anti-narcotics in Afghanistan. Thank you for joining us today to talk about the threat that drug cultivation and trade pose to your country.

Some think that Afghanistan's long-term security will not be promoted without a significant engagement in the fight against the production and trade of narcotics. Would you agree?

HABIBULLAH QADERI (Afghan Minister of Anti-Narcotics): I certainly agree that drugs and security has a link to each other. I do agree.

Q: Why do drugs pose such a threat to the stability and the security of Afghanistan?

QADERI: There are certain... certain things that I have to explain is that first certainly when you have no security the drug business booms or it gets a lot of benefit people can do. So mostly the drug people who are in the drug they want that there is no security so that they can do business, they can earn illegal money, etcetera.

On the other side, it is a threat also to the economy of the country. Economy in the sense that when you cultivate drugs the money goes to a few hands in the country. The agriculture system destroys, you don't have other agriculture products. So that is the reason that it certainly affects the security. It is interrelated.

Q: How do you assess the steps undertaken to tackle this phenomenon so far?

QADERI: Since it's a new phenomenon... not exactly a new phenomenon. A new phenomenon in the sense that the government has become serious to curb the cultivation of poppies, to stop the smuggling of the heroin, opium, all the opiate products.

So and for that we need the government to have the capacity, especially this time of the history of Afghanistan, where democracy is going to be enhanced and the country comes from destruction to normalization like we have seen that now we have the constitution, Loya Jirga, or the grand assembly that passed the constitution in this country. Then there was the election of the president. Then we have a new cabinet, and we hope we will have a good Parliament also in the future.

So all these things are very important, and due to the new constitution we have to curb... it's clearly mentioned that we have to get rid of the poppy cultivation and the step taken... there are many folded. Like we have to tell the people that it is in the constitution. We have to also provide the alternative livelihood to these people because this is for the time being, they earn their livelihood from this.

The other thing is that we have to reduce the demand also. That is another factor we have to work on. The criminal justice, which, you know, the smugglers have to be prosecuted. How do we prosecute it? Who will prosecute? Because it's a sensitive issue. The capacity building, the monitoring and survey, all these things are in our plan. And the law enforcement, which is... which is, to a certain extent, the eradication of the poppy fields where they just grow it for more profit, not out of compulsion. Or where the economical conditions are okay. It means they don't need to go for the poppies.

So these are the main plans that... and certainly interdiction also we will carry on over the anti-smuggling activities that will be done by the police of Afghanistan. We will try to strengthen the border police also, so that it doesn't go out of Afghanistan, which automatically has got an impact on the market or on the value of the opium.

When it doesn't go out of Afghanistan it remains in Afghanistan, so the prices will come down and there will be no need to buy or taken... the reason being that it's... between Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan, the prices varies tremendously. It's almost 1 in to 30, or to 35 times.

Q: What are your immediate priorities in tackling the drug scourge?

QADERI: The immediate is to provide alternative solutions, or alternative livelihood to the people, which in short term we have to provide to the farmers the subsidies that if we can provide subsidies, we certainly would buy their product. Not opium, but maybe it could be cotton, it could be wheat, it could be rice. It depends from area to area.

If we can encourage them by giving them subsidies, of course assisting them with fertilizer, with seeds, with the other agriculture imports, we certainly can overcome. And these are our priorities.

In the meantime, interdiction also would go ahead.

Q: What do you think are the long-term factors that will decide whether or not efforts to eradicate drug cultivation and trade will succeed?

QADERI: The long term is development, projects which we are now thinking in the longer term. Afghanistan has been devastated by war. There is no economy. We just get money from the donor countries, American, European countries, Japan and that is the money we depend on. We have to do some development at work so that we stand on our own feet, and if we can achieve that I'm hundred percent sure that we'll be able to eradicate and see to it that no one or... would be cultivating poppies.

Q: How is the international community helping, and what kind of assistance would you like to see in the future?

QADERI: For the time being they assist us in the capacity building of the counter-narcotics ministry, whether it is in the police training, or whether it is in the other... like the public information. They do assist us, they do the capacity building. They assist us on the criminal justice. They assist in the demand reduction for the time being. But as far the development assistance and the short-term assistance is concerned so far we have not received, and we need, I think, a lot to be done in this regard.

Q: Thank you very much for your time, sir.

QADERI: Thank you.

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