Rebuffing months of U.S. pressure, President Hamid Karzai has decided Afghanistan will not implement a Colombia-style program to spray the country's heroin-producing poppies, bowing to pressure from top Cabinet members who feared a popular backlash, officials said Thursday.
The decision dashes U.S. hopes that herbicide sprayed by ground applicators would help combat Afghanistan's opium trade after a record crop in 2006. (. . .)
Fueled by the Taliban, a powerful drug mafia and the need for a profitable crop that can overcome drought, opium production from poppies in Afghanistan last year rose 49 percent to 6,700 tons — enough to make about 670 tons of heroin. That's more than 90 percent of the world's supply and more than the world's addicts consume in a year.
The booming drug economy, and the involvement of government officials and police in the illicit trade, compounds the many problems facing Afghanistan's fledgling democracy, amid stepped-up attacks by militant supporters of the former Taliban regime.
Or as Fearless Leader might put it, "We're not shootin' 'em up over there so we can shoot up over here."