Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Russia points to Dawood Ibrahim in Mumbai attacks

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Indian newspapers are reporting that Russian intelligence says underworld don Dawood Ibrahim – an Indian national who India believes is living in Karachi in Pakistan — was involved in the Mumbai attacks.

The Indian Express quotes Russia’s federal anti-narcotics service director Viktor Ivanov as saying that Moscow believes that Dawood’s drug network, which runs through Afghanistan, was used to finance the attacks. Ivanov said these were a “burning example” of how the illegal drug trafficking network was used for carrying out militant attacks, the paper said, citing an interview in the official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

The stories caught my eye not just because of the alleged link to Ibrahim, but because it highlights the extent to which Russian and Indian intelligence may be cooperating over Mumbai and on the wider issues over Afghanistan and the heroin trade. (A colleague in our Moscow bureau tells me that Ivanov is close to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and has good connections in the Russian intelligence community.)

“The gathered inputs testify that regional drug baron Dawood Ibrahim had provided his logistics network for preparing and carrying out the Mumbai terror attacks,” the Asian Age quoted Ivanov as saying. “The super profits of the narco-mafia through Afghan heroin trafficking have become a powerful source of financing organised crime and terrorist networks, destabilising the political systems, including in Central Asia and the Caucasus.”

Afghan opium farmers follow the money

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The rising cost of food that is stirring unrest in the developing world may have one positive spin-off: Afghanistan’s opium farmers, attracted by high wheat prices, may be turning to legal crops.

The Financial Times quotes a recent commander of British forces in Helmand, the heartland of the country’s drugs trade, as saying there is anectodal evidence of such a switch in the southern province. With wheat prices at record highs farmers are calculating they will make money planting the crop, says Brigadier Andrew MacKay.

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