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The Killid Group
Tribal militias stoke insecurity in GhorWritten by Qala Nawi
Saturday, 07 May 2011 11:21
Provincial authorities say up to 100 irregular armed groups have mushroomed in Ghor and contribute to widespread insecurity, tribal antagonism and criminality.
The problem is more evident in Shahrak, Tolak, Pasawand, Lalo Sarjangal and Taiwara districts where different tribes have established their own militia groups to fend off local enemies and protect and expand their interests, according to several people and officials interviewed by Killid. "We are seeing a significant rise in the number of irregular armed groups here," said Abdul Hai Habibi, a spokesman for the governor of Ghor. He said there were about 100 militia groups each of them comprised of 20-100 armed men. "In total we estimate that there are almost 15,000 armed militia men," he said.
Aid agencies and human rights campaigners have voiced concerns about what they call "criminal impunity" entertained by numerous irregular armed groups across the country. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that the proliferation of armed actors has impeded humanitarian access in some provinces.
"Some officials in the western parts of the country have no idea about the ongoing disarmament and disbandment of irregular armed groups in the country," said Sayed Jalal Sayedi, an official of the Disbandment of All Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) which is a government-led and donor-funded programme. According to Sayedi, DIAG was launched in Herat, Farah, Badghis and Ghor provinces in 2005 and since over 9,000 light weapons have been collected from numerous militia groups.
Officials also blamed Taliban insurgents for the re-militarization of tribes in Ghor and said the insurgents were trying to destabilize the province. No Taliban spokesperson was immediately available for a comment.
Abdullah Hewad, the governor of Ghor, meanwhile, accused foreign states of perpetuating the problem but refused to name them specifically. Pakistan's spy agency and Iran's revolutionary guards are usually referred to by some officials and Afghan analysts as the main rogue entities which support Taliban insurgents and other subversive armed groups in Afghanistan.
"The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan's spy agency] has been supporting commanders to fuel insecurity and war in Ghor," alleged 34-year-old Hamidullah, from Chekhcheran city.
Others, however, pointed the blame finger to Afghan Government and its U.S.-NATO allies for hiring and using irregular armed groups for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism purposes. Faced with an intensified insurgency and lacking adequate national security means to counter the growing conflict, Afghan Government has ostensibly turned to local commanders and warlords to stave off the insurgency and ensure a level of stability in highly insecure areas. The government's strategy has been fiercely criticized by human rights organizations which label local militias as predatory, criminal and unaccountable.