Sunday, May 10, 2009

Brother of Afghanistan's President threatens a reporter for enquiring into drug connections

Several sources on the drug industry in Afghanistan have accused the brother of Hamed Karzai, President of Afghanistan, of being a major figure in the illicit drug industry in southern Afghanistan where more than 90% of all the opium in the world is produced. Tom Lasseter of the McClatchy newspapers went looking into the question and directly confronted Ahmad Wali Karzai, head of Kandahar's provincial council. The reaction was to threaten him.

Karzai grabbed my hand and used it to give me a bit of a push into the next room. He followed me, and his voice rose until it was a scream of curse words and threats.

I managed to record just one full sentence: "Get the (expletive) out before I kick your (expletive)."

I won't describe the rest, because it involves the Afghans I was working with, none of whom wants to risk revenge in a country where feuds often end in blood.

Lasseter got out and can now tell the story, but I wonder about his assistants. One of the people who had informed on Ahmad Wali Karzi had subsequently been killed; perhaps there was no connection but one wonders . . . . In any case, if Lasseter was threatened, then the Afghans who work with him, who cannot leave, are still threatened.

The search for the truth is a more risky game than most us think about. But it turns out that in the modern world the truth is precious, for [to quote again from the wisdom of the ancients] "men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil; they would not come into the light lest their deeds be exposed." Afghanistan's drug industry has to be one of the most critical elements of the insurgency problem in the region, and discovering and revealing how it operates will be a perilous venture. [Click on the title for the original article.]

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