Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
My trip started from Khogyani district, Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan. The eastern region of Afghanistan suffers from opium cultivation and free movement of insurgents along the border with the Pakistani tribal area, which has some similarities with Thailand’s former conflicts, especially opium.
Opium mainly destroys two areas, first where it is produced and second its destination. Farmers who cultivate opium face a lot of challenges which results in addiction of farmers and their families, fueling conflict, and destabilizing the area to make access difficult for government and counter narcotics groups. In areas where opium is grown there is no security and in areas where there is no security there are no development projects. Therefore, there are no roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals and as a result locals suffer.
Opium, before reaching its destination, kills and injures hundreds of souls on its trip. Afghanistan located at the heart of golden crescents produces ninety percent of the world opium and most of this travels through Iran. Afghanistan has about nine hundred kilometers of border with Iran. Drug traffickers use different means of transport for moving opium to Iran and they rarely face resistance of Iranian security personnel because they bribe officials to close their eyes and let opium pass the border without any resistance. Finally, when it reaches its destination in far eastern or western countries, there it creates a disturbance in peaceful communities and draws a negative picture of Afghanistan and its people.
I learned a lot in Thailand from Fellows, professors, and Thai experiences. In the golden triangle, the Thai government introduced alternative crops and they successfully eradicated opium. In Afghanistan, we tried similar alternatives to substitute for opium, but we were not successful. Opium is still cultivated and fueling conflict in Afghanistan and is one of the main financial supporters of anti government activities in the country and in the outside world. In last fifteen years, the Afghan government and international communities were unable to eradicate opium. Therefore I recommend to legalize it and use it in medicine, as it has been done in other opium producing countries.
Mohammad Mustafa Hatam, Afghanistan
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2015 Session