Afghanistan's anti-narcotics minister on Tuesday pleaded for more help from German troops to counter his country's rampant drugs trade, arguing that the proceeds from opium serve to bolster terrorism.
"We need more help. We need more support," General Khodaidad told German broadcaster ARD in an interview. "Whether they are terrorists or people making money from drugs, it is all the same network. German soldiers and NATO troops must take this into consideration and not shirk the issue."
Some 3,700 German troops are stationed in the more peaceful northern part of Afghanistan under NATO control but the fight against drugs is left to Afghan forces and police.
The United States and Britain have troops in the more violent eastern and southern parts of the war-torn nation and are engaged in the fight against the drug lords alongside Afghan soldiers.
"Opium from Afghanistan is landing directly on European streets," the minister said. "Drugs are the fuel for terrorism. From the illegal proceeds, terrorists buy guns and ammunition they use to kill innocent soldiers and innocent people in Afghanistan."
Some 90 per cent of the world's heroin comes from Afghan opium and the illegal trade in the drug is worth over four billion dollars (three billion euros) per year, according to the United Nations.
However, the minister insisted there had been some progress in combatting illegal exports. "In 2008, only 18 out of 35 provinces in Afghanistan were free of opium," he said. "In 2009, three or four more should be cleared."
Early April, Kabul said it had seized one billion dollars worth of drugs and prosecuted several top officials involved in trafficking.