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Editorials/Opinions Analyses for UPSC 01 December 2021


  1. Afghanistan, the rise of a narco-terrorist state

Afghanistan, the rise of a narco-terrorist state


India’s anxieties over ungoverned spaces and lawless Afghanistan turning into a significant source of internal security threat are gradually turning into reality.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production in Afghanistan has crossed 6,000 tonnes for the fifth consecutive year.


GS-II: International Relations (India’s neighbours, Foreign Policies and developments affecting India’s Interests), GS-III: Internal Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Narco-Terrorism?
  2. Narco-Terrorism in Afghanistan
  3. Global Concerns of Rising Narcotism in Afghanistan
  4. India’s International Coordination to fight Drug Abuse
  5. Concerns for India From Taliban

What is Narco-Terrorism?

  • The link between narcotics and terrorism is known as narco-terrorism.
  • The concept of narco-terrorism stems from the realisation that drugs trafficking and terrorism are strongly interconnected.
  • Any narco-terrorist organisation employs both terrorism and the drug trade.
  • The ultimate goal of narco-terrorism is to destabilise the country through terrorism or to undermine it through the illegal drug trade, either alone or in combination.

Narco-Terrorism in Afghanistan

Potential Threat:

  • According to a UNODC estimate, opium production in Afghanistan has surpassed 6,000 tonnes for the sixth year in a row.
  • As a result of the stated increase in worldwide opium prices, the exponential output of opiates has increased by 8%.
  • The Taliban controls 85 percent of the world’s opium-growing land, making them the world’s most powerful narcotics gang.
  • According to a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), illegal drugs account for up to 60% of the Taliban’s annual earnings.
  • India’s fears of ungoverned regions and a lawless Afghanistan being a major source of domestic security danger are increasingly becoming a reality.

Issues with Taliban-led Afghanistan:

  • As the Taliban is aiming to gain income from the illegal cash crop, cases of smuggling and arrests of huge consignments of narcotics in India have increased.
  • Afghanistan has dramatically increased its methamphetamine manufacturing.
  • To transfer opiates, the Taliban employs a variety of smuggling methods.
  • It transports its products to Western Europe via the Caucasus and the Balkans, and then to North America.
  • Pakistani security personnel facilitate the southeastern route by collaborating with the Taliban and smuggling syndicates known as “tanzeems” in the region.

Global Concerns of Rising Narcotism in Afghanistan

  • The Taliban appear to be taking advantage of the international community’s vacuum and disinterest.
  • Between 2001 and 2020, the worldwide inability to establish an acceptable counter-narcotic policy to rein in the narco-trade beginning in Afghanistan might be partly to blame.
  • The emergence of a narco-terrorist state will have grave implications for the United States, Europe, and the region.
  • In this sense, the UNODC was only able to accomplish a slight reduction in the area under poppy cultivation and opium production.
  • For a number of reasons, efforts to promote alternative livelihood programmes and encourage farmers to plant other income crops have mostly failed. The central government in Kabul has minimal authority, and the international community has urged a punishing strategy.
  • Production increased as the US and the international community worked to get out of the Afghan quagmire, and it is expected to continue to rise in the coming years.
  • There is widespread agreement that drugs can ruin society, and that money generated from the narco-trade may be used to fund organised crime and terrorism.

India’s International Coordination to fight Drug Abuse

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) coordinated with various international organisations for sharing information and intelligence to combat transnational drug trafficking.
  • The Various International Organizations that the NCB works with include:
    1. The SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring Desk; Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS);
    2. Colombo Plan: A regional organisation of 27 countries designed to strengthen economic and social development of member countries in the Asia-Pacific region;
    3. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (ASOD);
    4. Bay of Bengal Initiative For Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-Operation (BIMSTEC);
    5. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC);
    6. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
  • For coordination among various Central and State agencies, the Narco Coordination Centre (NCORD) mechanism was set up by the MHA in year 2016 for effective drug law enforcement. This NCORD system has been restructured into a four-tier scheme up to district level on July 29, 2019, for better coordination.

Concerns for India From Taliban

  • India, which lies between the world’s two main opium-producing regions, the “Golden Crescent” and the “Golden Triangle,” has seen an increase in seizures of Afghan-origin heroin.
  • Afghan opiates have been entering India through convoluted sea and air routes for decades, involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka, African nations such as Mozambique and South Africa, and Qatar.
  • The Taliban’s control of Kabul may have sparked a flood of free-for-all narcotics smuggling that, if not halted, might destabilise India’s security.
  • If anti-India organisations like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, who are currently active in Afghanistan again, are able to get hold of the money from such narco-trafficking, India’s efforts to control terror financing at home would yield only limited benefits.

Golden crescent

  • The Golden Crescent is the name given to one of Asia’s two principal areas of illicit Opium production, located at the crossroads of central, south and western Asia.
  • This space overlaps three nations, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan whose mountainous peripheries define the crescent.

Golden triangle

  • The Golden Triangle is located in the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers.
  • Along with the Golden Crescent, it is regarded as one of the largest producers of opium in the world since the 1950s until it was overtaken by the Golden Crescent in the early 21st century.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023