KABUL, Afghanistan — On Thursday, The Associated Press ran a story outlining the Taliban’s crackdown on drug usage in Afghanistan — a difficult feat, given that the nation dominates the global opium market, with the BBC reporting Afghanistan to be the source of 80% of opium trafficked worldwide.
While drug addiction, particularly addiction to opium, heroin and methamphetamine, is certainly epidemic in Afghanistan, the Taliban have responded to the issue precisely as one would expect dictatorial zealots to respond to it: rounding up drug users and forcing them into rehabilitation camps before going after opium farmers and punishing them under Sharia law.
However, the AP only outlines that after editorializing about the Taliban having “set their sights on stamping out the scourge of narcotics addiction.”
The AP story reads:
Below Kabul’s bustling city bridges, amid piles of garbage and streams of filthy water, hundreds of homeless men addicted to heroin and methamphetamines are rounded up, beaten and forcibly taken to treatment centers. The Associated Press gained rare access to one such raid last week.
The scene provided a window into the new order under Taliban governance: The men — many with mental illness, according to doctors — sat against stone walls with their hands tied. They were told to sober up or face beatings.
Soon after the Taliban took power on Aug. 15, the Taliban Health Ministry issued an order to these facilities, underscoring their intention to strictly control the problem of addiction, doctors said.
Afghanistan, whose economy is largely dependent on foreign aid, faces a looming economic crisis as first-world countries withdraw their financial support from the nation after the rise of the Taliban regime — foreign aid comprised 73% of the budget for Afghanistan’s state spending.
Now, without a viable source of revenue, it’s possible that the Taliban — who, despite their public condemnation of Afghanistan’s extremely lucrative drug trade, made $20 million from opium trafficking in 2020 — could be cracking down to corner the market and make up for the anticipated financial windfall of the insurgent Taliban government.
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