The challenges currently facing Afghanistan and the US-led international coalition are cumulative. They did not pop up overnight. They have been evolving since the Taliban was driven from power in late 2001. In the case of narcotics trafficking, failure to properly assess the problem's causes and effects is encouraging misperceptions.
The problem of narcotics has been brought upon our country by the past three decades of war, destruction, and human suffering. We know from international experience that global demand for narcotics finds supply in environments where state institutions are weak, where general instability is high and where poverty is rife.
Although Afghanistan is coping with such dire conditions today, the number of drug-free provinces in the country has increased from six in 2006 to 18 in 2008 -- meaning that no opium poppies are harvested in more than half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. This significant progress has been achieved in provinces where the government is in firm control, delivering alternative assistance to farmers and prosecuting drug traffickers.
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M. Ashraf Haidari is the Political Counselor of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.