HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html US Memo Critical Of Afghan President's Efforts On Heroin
Pubdate: Mon, 23 May 2005
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2005
Author: Daniel Cooney
Bookmark: (Heroin)


A CAMPAIGN to eradicate poppy farming for heroin in Afghanistan has been 
ineffective partly because President Hamid Karzai "has been unwilling to 
assert strong leadership", according to a leaked memo by US diplomats.

A message sent earlier this month from the US embassy in Kabul, the Afghan 
capital, said that provincial officials and village elders had impeded 
destruction of significant poppy acreage and that top Afghan officials, 
including Mr Karzai, had done little to overcome that resistance.

The claims were angrily denied by the Afghan leader, who claimed that the 
international community had not done enough to help his country.

The three-page memo, which was set to the Secretary of State, Condoleezza 
Rice, also criticised British personnel working in the area, who decide 
where eradication teams work, for being "substantially responsible" for the 
lack of progress.

It said the British were not targeting the main growing areas and had been 
unwilling to change their priorities. However, perhaps the strongest 
criticism was aimed at Mr Karzai.

"Although President Karzai has been well aware of the difficulty in trying 
to implement an effective ground eradication programme, he has been 
unwilling to assert strong leadership, even in his own province of 
Kandahar," said the cable, which was drafted by embassy personnel involved 
in the anti-drug efforts.

The criticism of Mr Karzai reflected mounting frustration among some 
American officials that plans to uproot large swathes of Afghanistan's 
poppy crop have produced little success.

The officials said they worried that heroin trafficking could threaten the 
American-led reconstruction effort in Afghanistan and worsen corruption in 
the country's fledgling central government.

Mr Karzai is scheduled to visit Washington this week and meet President 
George Bush today. Relations have been soured recently between America and 
Afghanistan after a US military investigation found that US personnel were 
responsible for widespread and horrific abuse of prisoners at the Bagram 
detention centre near Kabul.

Mr Karzai, seen by some as a puppet of Washington, has said he wants 
greater control over American military operations in his country and 
punishment for any US troops who mistreat prisoners. The United Nations 
also yesterday called for America to allow an Afghan human rights group to 

Speaking in Boston last night, Mr Karzai sharply rejected the claims that 
he had not worked strongly enough to deal with poppy production.

"We are going to have probably all over the country at least 30 per cent 
poppies reduced," he said. "So we have done our job. The Afghan people have 
done our job."
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