A former U.S. State Department official charges Afghanistan's drug trade is being protected by the country's top officials.
Schweich wrote in an article posted on The New York Times website
Thursday, that U.S. efforts to eliminate Afghanistan's poppy crops have
been repeatedly thwarted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Schweich left his post as coordinator for Counter Narcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan last month.
alleges that while Taliban militants use the opium trade to finance
their insurgency, Mr. Karzai and his supporters have also used the drug
trade to get rich.
He writes that the Afghan president is using the drug trade to secure his political standing in order to win reelection in 2009.
No U.S. or Afghan officials were immediately available for comment.
According to the United Nations and the U.S., Afghan farmers produce 93 percent of the world's opium poppies.
report by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime earlier this year
predicted the 2008 Afghan poppy crop would be large, but smaller than
it was in 2007.
Schweich also claims President Karzai was able
to undermine U.S. attempts to destroy poppy crops by citing divisions
among U.S. officials.
He writes that some U.S. military
commanders obstructed counter-narcotic efforts, arguing that fighting
the drug trade should not be part of the military's mission.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.