3 Oct 2017
Writer: Mohammad Reza Gulkohi

Instability or Stability

Conflicting claims surround the government decision to set up a militia force that will work under the Afghan National Army. Also, will it widen instability or assist security forces?

The idea to establish a local army was mooted by the US to Afghanistan. The Pentagon strategy was to hand over policing to residents – a 20,000-strong local army. More details published in the New York Times said that the Afghan army would hand over security to local army forces after it was emancipated from the clutches of the government's armed opponents.

But Dawlat Waziri, spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, has rejected the media reports. A reserve force of retired soldiers and officers from the Afghan security forces is being created, he said. "Within the framework of this plan, a reserve of soldiers and forces that has been issued retirement cards will be formed for the purpose of ensuring security," Waziri said.
The defence ministry spokesperson said the plan was still at an elementary planning stage, and would be referred to the palace and parliament after finalisation.
Earlier experience
It is not the first instance of the creation of a local army. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned there are dangers in establishing local forces since it ends up supporting local militia. There were serious breaches of human rights in the earlier experience with local forces.
HRW has urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani not to agree to the US-Afghan defence ministry plan of establishing a 20,000-strong local force. There is concern that arming locals would exacerbate tribal tensions and political differences, and in the long run only widen insecurity.
Retired general Atiqullah Amarkhil, a security expert says, "The plan to establish the militia is a silent goal of the US … the Americans want to protect their interests and espionage is one of the goals of the plan." He thinks that if the US did not have "devious designs" it would have approved the decision to increase the armed forces, police, and intelligence officials instead of pushing to establish parallel forces.
He believes the power of the central government would weaken, and assassinations and abductions increase under a strategy that gives power to local forces.



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