Leader denies Afghanistan shields drug trade

Leader denies Afghanistan shields drug trade

Leader denies Afghanistan shields drug trade

Updated 19 December 2011, 10:36 AEDT

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has vehemently rejected allegations that he has been obstructing counter-narcotics efforts and protecting drug lords.

The allegations were made by Thomas Schweich, the US government's former point man in the fight against the heroin trade in Afghanistan.

Mr Schweich says the Afghan government is deeply involved in shielding the opium trade, and drug traffickers are buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials.

Writing in an article in the New York Times magazine, Mr Schweich says the president resisted drug enforcement arrests and eradication of poppy fields in wealthy areas of the Pashtun south, his power base.

Rejecting the allegation, Mr Karzai says his government has put hundreds of drug traffickers behind bars and claims many of the drug smugglers are from the international mafia.

Mr Schweich's article is also critical of the Pentagon and the British military for refusing to provide military support in drug eradication efforts.