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The Killid Group
Security Firms Fate in BalanceWritten by Malyar Sadeq Azad
Saturday, 28 August 2010 14:53
Uncertainty dogs the fate of private security companies who themselves are not convinced that the order for the shutting down of private security firms will be implemented uniformly or with exceptions.
Though the spokesman of the President, Waheed Omar and the Head of the Counterterrorism Unit in Ministry of Interior, General Abdul Manan Farahi, both confirmed that the order of the President was absolute, Kabul is rife with rumours of deals suggesting that some exceptions may be made.
In part the rumours have been given a boost by the President himself. In an interview with ABC news channel, Mr. Hamid Karzai said that foreign diplomats and international donors would be allowed to keep their bodyguards and security forces in their compound and for escort duties. Private security companies remain skeptical about the contradictory signals.
Mohammad Walid Haqiqat, the deputy in the International Force Guard company said he had not taken any steps to close his company. "I do not think that security companies will be canceled. Specifically why should my company, which hires more than 300 recruits and has not committed any fault, be deactivated?"
There are fears of job losses as a result of the closure of the companies and some anger. Rajab Khan, a 35 year old guard with a private security firm says he joined the company because of a high salary. He criticized the remarks of President Karzai saying "When the president says that we are thieves, why doesn't he prove it? We do not join the police because of low income salary."
Some analysts believe that all but a few private security companies will be shut down. "According to my information, only four big foreign companies will keep working and the security companies currently run by high-ranking Afghan officials will join one of these four", says Razaq Mamoun, a political analyst. This rumour has caused concern amongst many companies. "If they cancel, they should deactivate all private companies. If the Afghan government allows some specific companies and deactivates others, it is a deal and betrayal" says Lotfullah, owner of the Afghanistan-e-Nawin security company, a sentiment shared by Haqiqat.
Some answers to this complex issue may be available later this week during a proposed meeting of owners of private security companies, US officials and foreign contactors. Farahi, however, says this meeting was planned before the decree of President Karzai and that it cannot take any decision which would reverse the presidential decree.
According to the continuing investigation done by Killid Group, there are more foreign private security companies in the country than Afghan companies. Numbering more than 30, they include approximately 15 British companies, 10 US, 2 Australian, 2 Turkish, 1 Canadian and one Lebanese. A small number of these companies have domestic partners. The major activities of the foreign companies are to provide security to the NATO supply convoys, the embassies, international institutions and some government departments. The most famous of these companies is "Blackwater" that has now changed its name to Xe.
The Afghan government also has contracts with some of these companies for the security of buildings of the Independent Elections Commission, the Diesel Electricity Project in Kabul located in Pul-e-Charkhi and the security of Kabul and Kandahar airports, which are given to an English company called "Global".