Karen Tandy, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, has called for greater cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan in fighting the region's exploding opium trade, saying the war on drugs would support the fight against terrorists.
"You live in the shadow of a monster — the Afghan opium trade — that threatens not only your nation, but the world," she told Pakistani delegates and the media Friday during a visit to Islamabad, Pakistan.
The DEA now believes that Taliban insurgents earn the bulk of their funding from taxing and protecting Afghanistan's $3 billion opium trade.
"The lines between drugs and terrorism have blurred," she said.
Since December 2005, DEA agents have supplied actionable intelligence on more than 19 occasions that deterred or prevented hostile acts, including rocket and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks, she said.
Cooperation between counternarcotics and counterinsurgency agents is key to future progress, she said. The DEA is providing training to Pakistan's Frontier Corp, which operates in the volatile tribal belt, to help stem the flow of drugs smuggled by pro-Taliban militants in cahoots with Pakistani heroin syndicates.
Analysts say dismal relations between Islamabad and Kabul, Afghanistan, is one of the main obstacles to creating a workable counternarcotics strategy for the region, which produces 90 percent of the world's heroin.
Tandy called on both countries to "set aside historical differences and band together against this common enemy — the illegal drug trade that is fueling the volatility and terrorism in this region."