How Neglect and Remoteness Bred Insurgency and a Poppy Boom: The story of Badghis

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Author: Jelena Bjelica
Date: 22 February 2017

Badghis, a far-flung province in the west of the country, was the bad surprise in the 2016 Afghanistan Opium Survey of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The poppy cultivation area in Badghis increased almost by 200 percent compared to 2015, contributing significantly to the overall countrywide increase of ten per cent. AAN’s Jelena Bjelica looks at Badghis as a case study of how a remote and neglected province became a breeding ground for the insurgency and an increasingly important hub for the Afghan drug economy, and at how administrative tussles – about which province (Badghis or Faryab) some key militancy-ridden districts belong to – exacerbate these issues (with input from Thomas Ruttig and Obaid Ali).

Afghanistan opium trends

An unprecedented increase in opium poppy cultivation has been documented in Badghis for 2016, a remote western province that is largely underreported – even more so after the Spanish Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) there closed in 2013. The acreage under poppy cultivation increased almost by 200 percent, from 12,891 hectares in 2015 to 35,234 hectares in 2016, and significantly contributed to the countrywide increase of ten per cent. This was reported in the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) 2016 Opium Survey released in December 2016. The Badghis increase was so substantial that the province now ranks second on the list of Afghanistan’s poppy- growing provinces, immediately after the decades-long frontrunner, Helmand. For the last ten years, the second place had ‘traditionally’ been occupied by Kandahar or Farah and, earlier (between 2002 and 2004), Nangrahar. (1)

Much of the 2016 Badghis rise happened in Ghormach district in the province’s remote north. It had already overtaken Bala Murghab as the leading opium poppy cultivating district in the province in 2015 and harboured almost half of the province’s cultivation area in 2016, with 17,594 hectares. Together Ghormach and Bala Murghab accounted for 85 per cent of Badghis’ poppy cultivation area.

An international drug control expert also pointed out to AAN that the 2016 increase in Badghis and, in particular in Ghormach, could be linked to the decrease in Helmand, where the security situation deteriorated so significantly (see AAN 2016 reporting on Helmand here and here) that farmers could not even go to work in their fields. According to information that this expert shared with AAN, Badghis’s good climate and its remoteness inspired a number of farmers from Helmand to come to Badghis in 2016 and rent fields to plant opium, offering in return to teach and train Badghis’s farmers in opium cultivation.

A similar trend was reported by UNODC in Qaisar, the district in Faryab province neighbouring Ghormach in Badghis province. Qaisar accounted for almost 90 per cent of the cultivation in Faryab, with 2,742 out of 2,923 hectares. Both districts also share a similar ethnic profile: While Ghormach is predominantly Pashtun, Qaisar district has many Pashto speaking villages, and the ethnic affiliation paves the ground for people from both districts swiftly moving between them. In addition to the fact that both districts are highly contested, they also host flourishing opium markets. Jahri-e Siah, an area around 30 kilometres south of the Ghormach district centre towards Qaisar, has a long history of insurgency (it is a mountain valley, with no villages in it) and has dozens of makeshift drugs and weapons markets. It is one of the main hotspots were smugglers from Qaisar come to exchange drugs and weapons for cash. A market in Qaisar district called Bazar-e Shakh has been under Taleban control for the past two years. AAN was told by locals that dealers and smugglers from Bazar-e Shakh frequently visit Jahri-ye Siah to barter items.

Badghis as buffer zone and target of boycott

Situated northeast of Herat province, with a regional centre of the same name (see AAN reporting here, here and here), Badghis borders the Central Asian country of Turkmenistan in the west and Faryab province in the northeast. Far from the capital, Kabul, it had never been a location that was strategically important in the struggles for domination over Afghanistan. But as part of Afghanistan’s western region, it played a role in regional power struggles.

As such, it was claimed by anti-Soviet resistance-leader-turned-provincial-governor Ismail Khan. Between 1992 and 1995, he held it as a part of his own regional dominion carved out during the factional wars of the 1990s. There, he proclaimed himself the amir of western Afghanistan. A Farsiwan (Persian speaker) from the south of Herat province, he is associated with the Tajik-dominated, former mujahedin party of Jamiat-e Islami. Never fully comfortable with Jamiat’s traditional Panjshiri and Badakhshi leaders, he was far enough from them to maintain his own grip in this region of Afghanistan.

Geographically sandwiched between his area of influence and that of the Uzbek leader of the Jombesh-e Melli party, Abdulrashid Dostum (from the northern province of Jawzjan), Badghis also played a buffer role between them for most of its recent history. This was particularly true for the two northern districts of Bala Murghab and Ghormach; Jamiat controlled most of the remaining provincial territory. In 1996, Badghis became the first Afghan province at the country’s northern border to be taken by the Taleban, after the fall of Herat and of Ismail Khan’s dominion in 1995.

After the fall of Taleban regime in 2001, Badghis came under Ismail Khan’s and Jamiat’s control again, and they dominated the political scene there until 2005. Ismail Khan was confirmed as Herat’s provincial governor by the Karzai administration in 2001. Two local Tajik militias, one led by Zaher Naebzada and his brothers from Bala Murghab district and the other by Muhammed Arefi from Ab Kamari, helped Ismail Khan reinstate his control over most of Badghis. In return they acquired important provincial government posts in post-2001 Afghanistan. While Arefi was appointed the provincial governor of Badghis in 2001, the Naebzada brothers received prominent posts with the Afghan security forces. (Later, between 2008 and 2010, Arefi served in a less prominent position as the provincial director of the Ministry of Agriculture.) One of the Naebzada brothers became the police chief in Muqur district; another one, Amir Shah Naebzada, became first provincial police chief and then the head of the border police for northern Herat and Badghis, and a third one, Dost Muhammad Naebzada, returned to his former post as National Directorate of Security chief in the province.

In 2004, however, an important change in the political landscape happened due to President Karzai’s efforts to curtail the power of Ismail Khan. In this conflict, the Naebzada brothers took the central government’s side, and their strongest, Zaher Naebzada, was appointed head of the army (then officially ‘Afghan Militia Forces’) division in Herat. Fighting broke out two times, in March and August 2004, during which (in March) Ismail Khan’s son Mir Wais Seddiq – then a minister in the Karzai cabinet – was killed by Naebzada’s forces in Herat city, creating a personal enmity. (More about these events in a 2004 paper by Antonio Giustozzi published by the London School of Economics.)

After Ismail Khan was removed from his position in Herat (in 2004), he finally accepted a post as the Minister of Energy and Water in Kabul (in 2005) and used this position to take revenge on the Badghis militia commanders. According to a 2010 intelligence assessment of Bala Murghab district he vowed to “keep Badghis in the stone-age” and “successfully blocked any significant development projects for the province.” Zaher Naebzada had to give up his military position in Herat in 2004 and planned to run in the 2005 parliamentary elections but died – according to Afghan media reports – in a car accident in Herat in June that year. (2)

At the periphery of international attention

Spain, the NATO member that established the local PRT in 2005, with its contribution to the province of around 50 million Euros annually, was not able to compensate on the development side. (3) Non-existing road infrastructure in the province limited its reach to the provincial capital, Qala-ye Now, in the province’s south, far from the remote and problematic northern districts of Ghormach and Bala Murghab where insurgent and criminal activities grew and made an outreach there even more difficult. Warmly welcoming at first, the local population soon became disillusioned about the Spanish engagement, with its limited resources and impact (see previous AAN analysis on Badghis). A number of intelligence reports from 2006 and 2007 (see here and here) pointed at wide-spread corruption and district and provincial officials’ involvement and/or complicity in the growing opium cultivation and trafficking business. A 2007 cable emphasised that the “governor-led eradication (GLE) program enhanced [a] former governor’s [referring to corrupt and unpopular Governor Muhammed Nasim Tokhi who acted for only some months in 2007] ability to extort protection money; poppy was openly cultivated across large parts of the province.”

The Taleban who were pushed out of the southern districts of the province after 2001 by the Jamiati forces, found sanctuary mainly in the northern Bala Murghab district. The first news of Taleban in Badghis appeared in 2003, when Reuters based on information from government sources, reported the arrest of Mullah Badr, the governor of Badghis province during the Taleban regime. Although a 2006 intelligence report expressed concern about ex-Taleban “now residing” not only in Bala Murghab but also in Ghormach and about “anti-government Pashtun[s] fleeing the conflict-ridden situation in the South [of Afghanistan] to temporarily take refuge in Badghis,” it was already evident in June 2007, when Taleban attacked police positions in the Bala Murghab and Ghormach districts (see here) that they had re-established a critical foothold in the province. According to a report by the Long War Journal, a terrorism watch outlet, a new shadow governor for Badghis, Mullah Dastagir, had been appointed by the Taleban’s Quetta shura in October 2008. (He had been active in the province before, was captured and held by the National Security Directorate in early 2008, but was released on President Karzai’s orders only some months later.) He was finally killed by US troops in February 2009; Mullah Ismail replaced him. As summarised in an AREU case study,

… the Taliban insurgency in Badghis was greatly understated when it started in 2003 in a large Pashtun pocket in the districts of Ghormach and Bala Murghab, where it remobilised old Taliban networks from the 1990s […] Despite suffering heavy losses over the years, with their leadership being repeatedly decapitated, the Taliban have shown resilience […] the Taliban have faced no organised opposition and are now able to assert their exclusive control at least over most of Ghormach and Bala Murghab, where they have set up parallel shadow governance structures.

Over time, insurgents in Ghormach (4) and Bala Murghab made good use of the limited development aid, the absence of international and national security troops, inter-factional fighting and human rights abuses by local militias and restored their power base in these two districts. (5)

Ghormach – an administrative tussle

Ghormach’s administrative location – whether it belongs to Badghis (as it traditionally has) or Faryab – is also a bit of a mystery, and this has made coordinating military and development activity a problem. A policy advisor with the Afghan Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) told AAN via an email exchange that “Ghormach has been a district of Faryab province for a few years now” and that “President Karzai in a decree transferred the district administratively and fiscally to Faryab.” He was unable to name the year in which this happened or the number of the decree, but insisted that “it is now part of Faryab.”

According to local accounts, the central government made the district ‘temporarily’ part of Faryab in 2007. This corresponds with the ISAF decision to have Norwegian troops from Faryab patrolling the district, starting in 2007 with Operation Harekate Yolo II; Norway also started humanitarian work there in 2008 (see the 2016 Norwegian Afghanistan mission report, p 110). This indicates that Ghormach was transferred to Faryab mainly because of NATO/ISAF operational and logistic requirements. The Spanish troops were unable to patrol Ghormach: According to this 2010 AAN dispatch “the road was in such a bad conditions that the troops needed more than eight hours to reach the district[s] in the northwest”, while the ISAF troops under the regional command north saw the necessity of acting against the Taleban bases there from where they constantly attacked districts in Faryab.

According to this intelligence cable from 2010, the governor of Faryab, however, did not consider Ghormach part of his province. This might have been for practical, budgetary reasons. According to the same source, “the Governor considers Faryab to be poppy-free,” and Ghormach’s thriving poppy cultivation would undermine this status and the funding linked to it. UNODC took the same approach; in 2009 it declared Faryab poppy-free again and, as a result, Faryab received “Good Performers’ Initiative” funding. In the 2009 provincial council elections and the 2010 parliamentary elections, however, Ghormach also still figured under Badghis (for 2009 see this AAN analysis and for 2010, this IEC report). This raises the question of whether the administrative transfer of Ghormach has actually ever been decreed. (6)

Nevertheless, Ghormach continued to be a stronghold of the insurgency. Although the government managed to hold some control over the district centre after 2014, most of the district remained out of the government’s reach. In 2015 and 2016, first vice president Dostum twice personally led ANSF counteroffensives in Ghormach (see more in the forthcoming AAN dispatch about Non-Pashtun [Uzbek] Taleban), but both times the re-established ANSF’s hold of the district centre did not last long.

From their Ghormach stronghold, the Taleban can intensify attacks into Faryab province to the east (read AAN previous analysis here and here). It also allows them to control part of the paved highway between Faryab and Badghis, a section of the ring road that connects the north to the west and on to Mazar-e Sharif and Kabul, in line with the Taleban strategy to control the main road infrastructure in the north (see AAN previous analysis here).

How Badghis gradually became a top poppy province

The 2016 the increase in area under opium poppy cultivation in Badghis was mainly due to the deteriorating security situation. Since 2015, the frequency of armed clashes between insurgents and government forces increased, creating an ideal situation for a poppy boom. Government forces were preoccupied defending district centres, but they also de facto did not control most of the northern districts’ territory, and no eradication had been carried out in Badghis since 2014. (7) In turn, this caused a spread of cultivation, including to fields “close to, and in the district centres,” UNODC observed.

Badghis poppy cultivation 2005-16. AAN based on UNODC data (CC).

In the past, cultivation in Badghis had been kept afield from the district centres. As noted in an intelligence cable from 2007, “most farmers have planted their poppy behind large mud walls or at least 20 meters away from main roads, but many of these fields are readily apparent from major roadways and are located within 20 kilometres of the district capital.” Although cultivation in Badghis had been on the increase as early as between 2005 and 2007, it was relatively low, compared to the 2016 quantities. (The peak level of 2007, is almost nine times lower than the current level; see graph above). (8)

Nevertheless, the first escalation in the area under opium poppy cultivation, between 2005 and 2007, was closely linked to in-country labour migration. A 2006 intelligence report on poppy cultivation in Badghis pointed out that “many unoccupied youth are traveling to the south [of Afghanistan] to work in poppy cultivation and distribution.” A prominent elder from Badghis also described to AAN how farmers over the years had enjoyed “capacity building” in how to grow and harvest poppy: labourers travelling south to work brought back new skills to their home province (see AAN previous reporting here). He also blamed the increase in cultivation on the classic dilemma facing farmers in an insurgency-plagued province: whether to try getting non-opium produce to faraway markets (in Herat or Mazar-e Sharif) through insecure areas or to wait for the opium traders, who will buy the harvest directly, to come to the door.

The surge in cultivation was shortly interrupted by the severe drought in Badghis in 2008, which caused the failure of the entire rain-fed poppy crop and resulted in a large decrease. The cultivation, nevertheless, picked up again in 2009, partially because of the lack of other employment opportunities and partially due to losses that the 2008 drought caused. Lower levels of cultivations between 2010 and 2013 corresponded with the ‘surge’ in foreign – mainly US – troops, as well as the establishment of the Forward Operating Base “Todd” in Bala Murghab in 2009, following the transfer of Ghormach under the security oversight of the Norwegian-run PRT in Faryab.

This was short lived, nevertheless. In 2014, as soon as the security transition in the country was over, opium poppy cultivation surpassed the 2009 peak level of 5,011 hectares. In 2015, the cultivation area doubled to over 12,000 hectares. By 2015, each of seven Badghis districts (including Ghormach) was cultivating poppy opium (even in the district of Qale-ye Now, where the Spanish provincial reconstruction team had been located, opium poppy has been cultivated persistently since 2009). Ghormach and Bala Murghab, nevertheless, are the two initial and the two most persistent opium cultivating districts.

Poverty and the 2016 poppy boom

The massive 2016 poppy spread in Badghis happened mainly at the expense of grain cultivation. Badghis, which traditionally grows wheat, barley and maize, “produces surplus wheat even in average years,” according to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture and Livelihoods (MAIL) and the World Food Programme (WFP). A UNODC opium survey expert explained to AAN that “in Badghis province, as in other parts of Afghanistan, poppy is usually cultivated in the same fields with wheat. […] The 2016 satellite images for Badghis [however] revealed the fields exclusively planted with opium.” This was true for most of the province’s irrigated and rain-fed fields. If approximately 113,212 hectares of land in Badghis are used for agricultural purposes (according to a 2008 USAID agricultural profile of the province), this would imply that in 2016 opium poppy had been planted on almost one third of it.

The opium fields of Badghis were also healthier this year, the UNODC satellite images indicated. This implied recent crop-rotation (ie from wheat to opium poppy) and that the late spring harvest looked (in Ghormach usually in the third and fourth week of May) to be promisingly rich. The UN drugs agency estimates that poppy planted in the province in 2016 could produce as much as 786 metric tons of opium – only 14 metric tons less than what the entire Afghan production was under the mujahedin in 1989 (see 2006 UNODC analysis of the Afghan drug industry). This would also equal one sixth of the country’s overall production estimate (the potential opium production in Afghanistan increased by 43 per cent in 2016, to 4,800 metric tons) or over two-thirds of the potential opium production of the entire western region. (UNODC estimated that Badghis, Farah, Ghor, Herat and Nimroz jointly could produce of 1,139 metric tons of opium in 2016.)

The farm-gate value of the opium in Badghis was also high in 2016: one kilogram of dry opium was going for 259 USD – the highest farm-gate value countrywide – as reported by the farmers in the west to UNODC. (UNODC estimated that the total farm-gate value of opium production countrywide in 2016 amounted to 898 million USD, an increase by 57 per cent from its 2015 level.) The Badghis’ opium trade value, estimated by the UN agency, stands at 209 million USD; a kilogram of dry opium was worth for 267 USD in the western region in August 2016, as reported by opium traders (Badghis mainly exports opiates to Turkmenistan and to an extent via Herat to Iran; see UNODC Opium Survey 2008). Badghis is one of the poorest provinces of Afghanistan, with a poverty rate slightly higher than the national average (at 38.6 per cent according to the 2011–12 National Risk and Vulnerability Assessment). The high profits from opium trade make a strong case for Badghis farmers to plant opium poppy at the expense of grain.

The drug networks

A key for Badghis’s flourishing drug trade is the province’s proximity to Turkmenistan, a country which is also an extension of the Balkan drug trafficking route. (The Balkan route refers here to the drug trafficking channel to Europe, which at its European end mainly crosses via the Balkan countries – Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Turkey; see 2012 UNODC study on the northern route of the Afghan opiates trade.) Although relatively small quantities are exported to Turkmenistan compared to shipments to Pakistan or Tajikistan, this route plays an important role in transnational organised crime. (UNODC estimates that around 40 per cent of Afghan opiates are trafficked through the southern route, ie Pakistan; 30 per cent via the northern route, ie Tajikistan, and the remaining 30 per cent via the western route, ie Turkmenistan and Iran. The drugs trafficked via the western route are destined for European illicit markets.)

Four of seven Badghis districts border Turkmenistan: Muqur, Ghormach, Bala Murghab and Ab Kamari, with only one small official border crossing at the village of Murichaq in Bala Murghab district. Turkmen authorities, according to UNODC, have reported seizures of opiates – mostly opium – presumably originating from the border areas of Badghis in Afghanistan, and most probably from Murichaq. Nevertheless, given the lack of official information from Turkmenistan, assessing the amounts of drugs trafficked via Badghis is difficult. UNODC reported that “refined opium products including morphine and heroin are smuggled from Murghab into Turkmenistan […] as well as into neighbouring provinces, such as Herat.” According to a military intelligence assessment from 2010, Badghis also had established heroin-processing facilities: “Some narcotics barons have moved not only their smuggling operations into Badghis, but some of the actual heroin processing.”

The Naebzada clan, according to the same assessment, is involved in drug trafficking, although there are possibly other, smaller players. The Naebzada network and clan members’ positions in the security forces makes them a textbook enabler for cross-border trafficking. Their profile also fits the transformed model of Afghan organised crime. According to this UNODC study, the transformation of Afghan organised crime transpired in 2003 and among other things included a consolidation, characterised by limiting the number of operators to create a few larger and more powerful ones; the emergence of clearly organised criminal groups as opposed to individual “smugglers” or “traffickers”; a symbiotic relationship between government, business, and criminal individuals/operators and the rise of a criminal protection industry.

The Taleban, who control most of the territory in the key growing districts such as Murghab and Ghormach, also play a role in the drug trade. Additionally, the remoteness of Badghis kept the local Taleban isolated from the rest of the movement, yet dependent on insecure and long supply lines from Pakistan, according to a 2016 AREU study. The opening of supply channels via Iran and Central Asia are considered crucial in this respect. The “Bala Murghab mafia,” according to the 2010 intelligence assessment, operates as the shadow government of the district and “[they] are separate, not mutually exclusive, from the Taliban.” As reported in a UN provincial report from 2009, “Taleban groups protect the poppy field and receive financial support as a result of this.” The same provincial report found that senior officials within the police, border police and NDS have links with drug traffickers and facilitate the safe transfer of drugs from districts, using border police and national police vehicles.

Although in December 2010 a senior police officer was sentenced by the US-sponsored Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF) to ten years in prison for aiding drug traffickers in western Afghanistan and an appeal court of the task force upheld the conviction of the border police commander who was fined 14,000 USD for abusing his official authority (he was responsible for control of Badghis, Farah and Herat border crossings and misused his position to help traffickers smuggle narcotics to Turkmenistan and Iran; see Pajhwok news here), it is unlikely that the drug network was severely upset or damaged. On the contrary, the increase in the cultivation area and the expected output in Badghis may indicate that the province is becoming an even more significant drug trafficking centre, with its own drug networks that have established and developed their own contacts with groups operating in Central Asia and Europe.

A grim prospect for Badghis

The increase in opium poppy cultivation in Badghis may have not triggered a national alarm, as the whole 2016 UNODC Opium Survey went almost unnoticed. But it serves as a case study of how a forgotten and far-flung province has been slipping from both the government’s control and agenda. The small amount of aid and the uneven distribution of it between the province’s districts, the growing insurgents’ presence in its northern part and Ismail Khan’s policy of keeping it isolated from resources certainly have made poor and remote Badghis the most miserable province in the west of the country. This unrewarding position, nevertheless, also made it fertile ground for burgeoning local organised criminal groups and flourishing drug trafficking that cut across ideological and political lines. (9)

If, however, the trend of planting more opium at the expense of wheat is to continue, Badghis could face the fate of Farah province, which had only one year of wheat surplus in the last ten years and a corresponding increase in poppy cultivation and in insurgency. Farmers in Badghis may have done better in financial terms by planting more opium in 2016, but in the long run this will have a devastating impact on local agriculture.

Edited by Thomas Ruttig and Joyce Maxwell.


(1) The overall area used to farm opium poppy in Afghanistan increased by 10 per cent, from 183,000 hectares in 2015 to 201,000 hectares in 2016, according to the UNODC 2016 Opium Survey. Although this did not reach the record high of 2014 (when an estimated 224,000 hectares were planted with opium poppy), the 2016 cultivation levels are among the three highest recorded in Afghanistan (after 2014 and 2009, with 209,000 hectares). UNODC also recorded small decreases in traditional poppy growing provinces such as Helmand and Kandahar (by 7 and 3 per cent respectively). The larger 2016 acreage was coupled with better farming conditions, too. These included better crop rotation in Helmand province (poppy cultivation inside the former Food Zone, which ended in 2012, increased by 11 per cent in 2016), which in turn resulted in a higher yield per hectare (the average opium yield amounted to 23.8 kilograms per hectare; 30 per cent higher than in 2015) and an increase in overall production.

(2) According to a report received by one of the authors from a Herat-based western source then, Zaher Naebzada was “shot.”

(3) The Barcelona-based International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) estimated that Spain invested over three billion Euros in military and around 460 million Euros in development spending in Afghanistan in the period from 2005 to 2013 (see here).

(4) Ghormach district has been an insurgency stronghold for decades. Control over it had already been contested by stiff mujahedin activity during the 1980s Soviet occupation which was reported on frequently in the regime’s press, as AAN co-director Thomas Ruttig remembers. When the government of Dr Najibullah held parliamentary elections in April 1988, as part of his ‘national reconciliation’ (Ashti-ye melli) programme, he reserved parliamentary seats in several districts for mujahedin representatives in an (ultimately unsuccessfully) attempt to lure them over into a ‘coalition government.’ Ghormach was one of those districts, indirectly indicating strong mujahedin presence.

(5) Some reports indicate large-scale human rights abuses, including rapes, in Badghis in 2003 during a conflict between the two warlords (see this 2010 Chatham House paper).

(6) According to UNODC, which consults with the government on provincial boundaries for its opium survey, official administrative transfer of Ghormach district to Faryab province is expected to take place in 2017.

(7) According to the UNODC Opium Survey 2016, “[T]his year no eradication was carried out in western region with exception of one hectare in Nimroz province.” The total eradication of opium poppy countrywide decreased by 91 per cent in 2016, to 355 hectares.

(8) Opium poppy cultivation in Badghis was first reported in 2000. The province had a poppy-free status in 2001, when the Taleban proclaimed a total ban on poppy cultivation that was widely heeded. (For more informed view on the Taleban ban, see this 2011 AAN thematic report, with SWP Berlin think tank, by German scholar Citha D. Maass on Afghanistan’s Drug Career. The cultivation made a comeback in 2002 and until 2004 remained under 1,000 hectares (in 2002, 22 hectares; in 2003, 170 hectares; in 2004, 614 hectares).

(9) Drug trafficking across ethnic, ideological and political lines has been an established practice for the past 20 plus years. It had already been documented during the civil war between the Taleban and the Northern Alliance in the late 1990s, when opium produced in Taleban areas was trafficked through Northern Alliance–controlled areas (see UNODC Afghanistan Opium Poppy Survey 2000).