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The Killid Group, December 21, 2014

Disarm the armed

Locals complain they are forced to pay illegal tolls, and beaten or even killed if they resist

By Noor Wali Sayeed Shinwarai

No government can any longer shut its eyes to the problem of armed groups in the country. They are behind the almost daily crimes in Kunduz, Badakshan, Baghlan, Parwan and Bamyan provinces.

Local authorities in Kunduz accuse the Kabul government of supporting the men, some 4,000 in number, who are behind the kidnappings, rape and robberies particularly in the province’s Khan Abad and Dasht-e Archi districts.

Locals complain they are forced to pay illegal tolls, and beaten or even killed if they resist. The situation in the past two weeks is “like an internal war”, says an individual who did not want to be identified. A rocket fired by the militia hit a house killing a family member of a person called Anwar. “A woman was killed and a girl was injured,” Anwar later told Killid. “Irresponsible armed individuals have created doomsday for our people,” he laments.

Many people have fled Khan Abad. Complaints have been sent to the central government but nothing has happened.

Hayatullah Amiri, a local official, confirms the increasing insecurity has been reported to the government in Kabul and they have not received a response.

Rulers of their districts - militia commanders in Ghor
Rulers of their districts - militia commanders in Ghor. (Photo: Jerome Starkey)

People in Waras district under Bamyan Police say a former commander, Sarhang Wafa, has announced his own “kingdom”, and is harassing and beating people who live within its borders. Recently he nearly killed a farmer, Dawood Sharifi, and warned that anyone who disobeys his orders would be severely punished.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Interior Affairs claims its campaign to oust armed rebels has been going well, and they have been disarmed in the Northern Provinces. The campaign was launched three months ago. Many tens of armed men were arrested on charges of harassing people.

Ground reality

Najeeb Danesh, the deputy spokesperson in the interior affairs ministry, says government forces confiscated many tens of vehicles and weapons belonging to the illegal armed groups. However representatives of Kunduz in Parliament reject the claims. Neither have the losses due to the internal war decreased nor has the government taken its campaign to sensitive areas, they allege.

Public opinion seems to be behind the government on its claim about a campaign to flush out armed men but there is concern about the campaign’s failure to make a difference to the illegal activities. Defence analysts like General Atiqullah Amarkhel (retired) think there will be results only when the government identifies people in power who provide armed men with support.

“The supporters of irresponsible armed individuals are working in high positions in the Afghan government. Unless the government takes action against them I don’t think their bothering activities would end,” he says.

Political activist Abdullah Asar blames the government for paying former armed commanders, now in the Afghan Local Police (ALP), in some areas to control the Taleban. Instead the ALP commanders abuse locals, he says. “We have relatives in Kunduz province. They say armed individuals terrorise them,” he says. “Why did the previous government make this unreasonable strategy (of using them to contain Taleban)?”

Asar says civil society groups have raised their voice on the issue. A letter was sent on behalf of all groups to President Ghani urging the government to control armed individuals who are “strong pillars of illegal business, by planting and smuggling narcotics and other illegal activities”. The letter warns: “Prevent them or they would be out of control.”

Both President Ghani and his Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah promised to disarm the armed groups should they win. Now they are both part of the national unity government. The time to act is now.

Category: Warlords, HR Violations - Views: 3046