February 27, 2000, a Taliban fatwa announced a ban on the cultivation of poppy. Enforcement commenced in July of that year. Taliban leader Mullah Omar gave a firm re-statement of the Taliban’s position, declaring the use, cultivation and trafficking of poppy as “haram” – forbidden by the Koran. The reality was almost certainly more complex: many saw the rapid about-face by the Taliban as an attempt to gain recognition or funding from the international community or even a ploy to push up opium prices while trading off stockpiles. Furthermore, previous Taliban efforts to reduce cultivation reportedly being rebuffed, there appeared to be an element of credibility at stake for the Taliban leadership.
The UNDCP noted that:
“The ban was implemented using a combination of persuasion, negotiation and enforcement, as required. The ban has been enforced in a relatively structured way with regional governors holding a series of meetings with tribal elder, provincial governors and district administrators to inform them of the ban. Religious scholars have also been enlisted to ensure the ban had the necessary religious sanction.” (source)
In 2001 the Taliban manages to eradicate 99% of the country’s opium production within one year of their announcement to implement an all-out ban on cultivating poppies. The only region that keeps up production is the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance of Ahmad Shah Massoud. In October 2001 the Bush-Cheney administration invades Afghanistan over Osama bin Laden’s 9/11 attack, disposes of the Taliban (which the CIA created and helped rise to power), but for some reason appears to be completely powerless to control the country’s opium production, despite promises to keep suppressing the crop. In fact, the production of opium in the country explodes to much higher levels than before the Taliban ban, turning Afghanistan into the undisputed number one heroin exporter in the world, leaving Burma/Myanmar in the Golden Triangle far behind it.
In 2006 Karzai gave a speech and Q&A to the Council on Foreign Relations. He spoke about the “association between the terrorists [Taliban] and the drug dealers” that was causing all the problems and conveniently argued that back in 2000 the Taliban’s “profit of selling drugs was going down” and therefore temporarily ceased production to drive up prices for the next year. “The next year the poppies would have come back in full strength,” Karzai assured his listeners. If so, that still doesn’t explain why the Taliban was able to stop 90 percent of opium production in one year while it increased 50 percent from its previous high under U.S. rule. Then again, how serious can we take Karzai when, during the same CFR meeting, he asks: “What is the finished product called? Heroin?” It took a few seconds, but then some nervous laughter emerged from the audience.  It’s beyond ridiculous, of course, such a statement.
And how serious can we take Karzai knowing that his brother Ahmed Walid Karzai ran a CIA-backed militia and has been repeatedly accused of involvement in the drug trade?  In August 2009 former ISI general Hamid Gul even referred to him as “the biggest drug baron of Afghanistan.”  And here we have his brother and the U.S. government explaining to the world that it might take decades before Afghanistan’s poppy problem is under control. How convenient.
It actually appears the United States has only been eliminating enemy drug lords who have been working with pro-Al Qaeda insurgents, meaning that over 90 percent of the opium crop is deliberately left untouched , explaining pictures and reports of U.S. soldiers guarding poppy fields.
Apart from the curious earlier-mentioned KBR-Far West alliance, former Pakistani ISI general Hamid Gul has claimed that on occasion U.S. airplanes are shipping heroin to the West. The funds these flights generate are used to bribe warlords as Abdul Rashid Dostum and, until his assassination in 2011, Ahmed Wali Karzai.  Dostum was already linked to the heroin trade with Turkey’s government in the 1990s.