Wednesday, August 25, 2010

  • Rustaq to Faisabad
  • Pic By Kirsty Anderson   Farmers cultivate the poppy plants in the Takhar provence North East Afghanistan.
  •  Farmers cultivate the poppy plants in the Takhar provence North East Afghanistan.
  •  Farmers cultivate the poppy plants in the Takhar provence North East Afghanistan.

David Pratt: The role of heroin in sustaining the Afghan "war"

I just got an e-mail from Scottish journalist David Pratt, asking me to please let people know about the insidious effects of heroin on Afghanistan -- and on Scotland. Of course I will. The two articles that Pratt wrote on this subject offer huge new insights into why the Bush-Obama "war" in Afghanistan is still going on after nine long bloody years of both physical pain and financial disaster for both Afghanistan and the United States (not to mention Scotland).

I first met Pratt when we were both embedded in the Green Zone in Iraq in 2007, and it was love at first sight -- I immediately fell in love with his writing style, his knowledge and his willingness to go WAY out on a limb in order to get an accurate story. He has spent the last 30 years as a war correspondent for Glasgow's Sunday Herald, and his book "Intifada: The Long Day of Rage" is the ultimate eye-witness report on "The Troubles" in Palestine.

Pratt is a fabulous reporter and if he says that poppy cultivation and heroin sales are not only financing the Taliban's weapon supply in Afghanistan right now but also has become its current favorite way of screwing up the U.S. occupation by destabilizing the government in Kabul, then I know that information is spot-on.

According to Pratt, one American drug-control adviser in Kabul stated categorically that, “Once the Taliban realized that narcotic control was a major goal of the international coalition and Afghan government, they OK’d it to the farmers to grow poppy because they know it destabilizes the government. That’s also the reason why we’re seeing even more opium and heroin production.”

These are the kind of insightful articles that make other journalists (including myself) drool with envy. I wish that I could have written that!

According to another Pratt source, Dr. Zemoray Amin of Doctors of the World, "cheapness and easy availability of drugs, joblessness, displacement and, above all, the effects of the war are the main reasons for heroin’s escalating impact in Afghanistan. But ...there is another, even more worrying root cause. It stems from the widespread corruption among those within the top tier of the Afghan establishment, and complicity by the international community in ignoring that crookedness in exchange for political allegiance and strategical leverage in the fight against the Taliban."

Gen. Petraeus might be better off spending his time fighting poppy growing rather than fighting small-time villagers who are caught between a rock and a hard place regarding the Taliban.

Here's the rest of Pratt's article, entitled "Trail of Destructionl":

Next, Pratt takes on the other end of the poppy chain -- heroin in Scotland. Entitled "Made in Kabul -- shot up in Glasgow," This report is also grim. Drug addicts are now dying in Scotland in large numbers, thanks to Scottish soldiers who die in Afghanistan so that the drug trade there can continue to grow and prosper.

Here's a quote:
"Jawad was left for dead in a ditch. Stephen was found overdosed in a doorway. Though more than 3000 miles separate Kabul’s Karte Seh district and Glasgow’s Gorbals, the lives of these two men are inextricably linked by one thing: heroin. In the space of little over a month on opposite sides of the world, I listened to both tell of a hellish journey each had taken while trapped in the grip of a powerful and terrifying addiction.

"Jawad is no stranger to pain – in Kabul’s drug institutions, the methods used to detox heroin addicts come from the Middle Ages. Head shaved and stripped naked, on numerous occasions he has been locked in a cell and hosed down with freezing water. But it was the night when some policemen started beating Jawad that the agony became so great he found himself begging them to stop.

Read the rest of this article at

If I don't have the talent, insights, opportunity and/or knowledge to write important articles like these two, at least I'm glad to know that someone like Pratt is out there writing them for us -- and it my pleasure to pass them on even though it makes me sad to know that the information they contain is verifiablely true.