Heroin production is booming in Afghanistan, undermining democracy and putting money in the coffers of terrorists, according to a U.N. report, issued Thursday, that called on U.S. and NATO-led forces get more involved in fighting drug traffickers.
"Fighting narcotics is equivalent to fighting terrorism," said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. "It would be a historical error to abandon Afghanistan to opium, right after we reclaimed it from the Taliban and al-Qaida."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai called fighting the narcotics industry his "top priority" but came out Thursday against U.S. proposals to use crop dusters, citing possible risks to the health of villagers.
The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004 found that cultivation rose 64 percent from last year, with 323,701 acres dedicated to the poppies that produce opium.
That set a double record, Costa said, for "the highest drug cultivation in the country's history and the largest in the world."