United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday urged the Afghan government to prioritize efforts to eradicate illicit drugs in the war-torn country, warning "time is not on our side."
"Drug trafficking and transnational organized crimes undermine the health of fragile stats, weaken the rule of law and hinder our attempts to meet the Millennium Development Goals," Ban said in his address to the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact held in Vienna.
Citing Afghan Opium Survey 2011 released by UN anti-crimes agency, Ban told partners of the Paris Pact that poppy cultivation has increased by 7 percent and opium production has increased by 61 percent in the past year.
"We cannot expect stability when 15 per cent of Afghanistan's Gross Domestic Product comes from the drugs trade," Ban said, adding "We cannot speak of sustainable development when opium production is the only viable economic activity in the country."
"Time is not on our side.. above all, the Afghan Government must prioritize the issue of narcotics," he said.
Ban also urged "law enforcement agencies to work harder on eradicating crops, eliminating laboratories, keeping precursors from entering the country, and inhibiting drug trafficking."
He warned that there can be no real success without reducing the demand, calling for the international community to stand with Afghanistan in the fight against drugs.
The Paris Pact meeting, meant to review steps taken to reduce production and trafficking of opiates from Afghanistan, drew senior officials from more than 50 countries. Among them were Alain Juppe, Foreign Minister of France, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.