Drug accusations lodged by US military against Kam Air reportedly baseless

29/01/2013 16:54
Payrav Chorshanbiyev
Views: 16856

DUSHANBE, January 29, 2013, Asia-Plus  -- Drug accusations lodged by the United States military against the Afghan private air carrier, Kam Air, are absolutely unfounded, Mahmadyusuf Shodiyev, a spokesman for Dushanbe International Airport, said.

According to him, Kam Air has operated flights from Kabul to Dushanbe since March 2007 and no cases of detention of its passengers with narcotic drugs have been reported over the nearly six-year cooperation with Kam Air.

“This statement by the U.S. military undermines not only Kam Air’s authority, it also undermines Tajikistan’s international prestige,” Shodiyev noted.

Kam Air now operates once-weekly service from Kabul to Dushanbe.

Kam Air is an airline company that is headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. It operates scheduled domestic passenger services and regional international services. The Kabul International Airport serves as its main hub.  Founded on August 31, 2003 by Zamari Kamgar, Kam Air was the first privately owned passenger airline in Afghanistan.  Its first flight operated on 8 November 2003 between Kabul, Herat and Mazari Sharif with a Boeing 727.   The company reportedly operates a fleet of some 16 planes, including Boeing 767 and 747 aircraft and Antonov cargo planes.

We will recall that the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on January 25 that the United States military has blacklisted Afghanistan's leading private airline for allegedly ferrying large quantities of opium on civilian flights.

Military officials interviewed by the WSJ have said that Kam Air smuggles the drug to Tajikistan, where it is distributed to the rest of the world.

Kam Air, the WSJ said, denies the charges. It's not clear how much business the airline may lose as a result of the blacklisting; Kam Air is the first major Afghan company to be penalized by the US military over drug allegations, the WSJ said.

“Kam Air is too large of a company not to know what has been going on within its organization,” a US Army commander said to the WSJ.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium — its farms supply about 80 percent of the world's supply, The New York Times reported.

A United Nations report in November found that while opium harvesting was down by a third in Afghanistan, cultivation of poppies was up 18 percent. According to UN officials, as long as Afghan farmers are committed to growing poppies, Afghanistan will remain a major producer of opium and heroin.

The Afghanistan government has been ambivalent about cutting down on the opium trade.  Meanwhile, the Taliban and other militant groups often tax poppies in the areas under their control.  According to The New York Times, the Taliban probably made at least $155 million from poppies in 2012.

Tajikistan's government also declined to comment on the allegation, according to the WSJ.  

The U.N. estimates that Afghan opiates kill 10,000 people a year in the U.S. and other NATO countries, compared with some 400 coalition soldiers killed last year by the Taliban.

The task force believes that domestic passenger routes have been used to ferry opium around the country, according to a U.S. official in Kabul.  But the investigation is focused on Central Asia, the official said.  “Kam Air is flying out bulk quantities of opium,” the official said.

Post new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Comments

News no