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Tribal militia adding to security problems in Kunduz

Tribal militia adding to security problems in Kunduz

By
On
Mar 08, 2011 - 11:36

 

KUNDUZ CITY (PANinfo-icon): Residents of northern Kunduz province have warned the government that unless tribal militias are reined in, it could pave the way for a return of the Talibaninfo-icon.

The militia, also known as Arbakai, have been harassing and intimidating people in the province, extorting money, stealing phones and beating them if they resist. One commander was even accused of raping two womeninfo-icon in a family, although he has denied it. The militia, however, say they have no choice but to take money from residents as they have failed to get any of the salary promised by the government when they agreed to fight the Taliban.

The Arbakai are not formally a part of the Afghan National Security Forces but are supposed to be financed and armed by the Ministry of Interior.

Around 1,500 Arbakais are deployed across Kunduz.

Habibullah, 20, who lives in Mangthapa village of Chardara district, says the fighters assigned to protect their village take 2,000 afghanis ($45) from people every month to give to their commanders.

“Arbakai came to my house a week ago and told me I should give them 200 afghanis for every married man in the house. When I asked why, he said: ‘I don’t have time to answer your question, bring the money tomorrow’,” Habibullah said.

“We gave them 600 afghanis because three of our male family members are married,” he said.

“We thought that because the Taliban had been pushed out of our area, we would be safe and not live in fear, but now we are paying money to the Arbakais. We don’t have enough income. We survive on our daily wages.”

Some residents of Kunduz say the Arbakais are also taking their mobile phones.

Daud Mohammad, 33, from Imaminfo-icon Sahib district, said: “Tribal militants grabbed my cell phone when I was on my way to the district centre 10 days ago.

“When I asked them why they were taking my phone, they beat me with the butt of their guns. I have wounds on my head and my forehead.

“It is not only me, there are dozens of residents whose mobiles have been stolen by the tribal militia.”

People’s representatives are also concerned and say that if the government does not take action it will lose the people’s favour and they will once more back the Taliban.

During a visit to Kunduz last month, Bismillah Muhammadi, the interior minister, said the Arbakais would be dissolved and replaced by the local police.

Amanullah Atmanzai, a tribal elder and member of the High Peace Councilinfo-icon, said the existence of the tribal militia was a serious concern for people in the proince. “They are mainly criminals and warlords which are working for their own benefit and not for the people.”

Not only do they not ensure security, but they bring misfortune, steal money from people to buy weapons and beat villagers, he said.

“We have requested President Hamid Karzai to take serious steps and the president has promised to replace the Arbakais with the local police.

“It is important to increase the number of army and police recruits. If the government is serious about integrating the tribal militia into the army and police, they must make sure they are not warlords or criminals, and are those who accept the law,” Amanullah said.

Some Arbakai commanders also confirm the problems but blame the government for reneging on promises to provide them with salaries and weapons.

 “I was a commander for (Junbish Islami) party, when Kunduz security officials told me to start fighting the Taliban, promising me enough money and weapons,” said Nabi Gichi, a commander in Qala Zal district of Kunduz province.

“For the past year-and-a-half, I have been fighting the Taliban, but with fewer weapons, ammunition and money. So I am compelled to get money from residents to provide security in the district,” he said.

“If Arbakais are integrated into the local police force and receive enough money, they will not have to harass the people,” he said.

Some commanders themselves say that if they join the local police, it will stop the problems in Kunduz. Bakla, a commander in Ali Abad district, said the Arbakais were getting a bad name because of the behaviour of some people who were not members of their militia. “That is why I want to join the local police force. If not, I will put my weapon down and go home.”

“Some people hold their weapon and say ‘I am an Arbakai’, they grab people’s money and other things. They are thieves and robbers. They defame the Arbakais.”

Kunduz officials say other armed groups will soon be replaced by local police.

Gen. Abdul Rahman Seadkhili, Kunduz police chief, said: “We will have a 1,200 strong local police force for Kunduz, and we are trying to recruit suitable individuals, especially those who are guaranteed by tribal elders,” he said.

The process should take about two months. Already, 100 local police have graduated from training and have been deployed in Taloka, where they receive 9,000 afghanis per month, he said.

“I accept that some Arbakais have bothered people, but the majority of them are good people. When they are integrated with the local police and receive a monthly salary, then they will not annoy people and will obey the rules and law,” he said.

He said that anyone who had a complaint about the Arbakais should talk to the police. He pointed to an incident where a militia commander, Zia, had killed a villager, due to some personal enmity, and had been arrested and imprisoned.KUNDUZ CITY (PAN): Residents of northern Kunduz province have warned the government that unless tribal militias are reined in, it could pave the way for a return of the Taliban.

The militia, also known as Arbakai, have been harassing and intimidating people in the province, extorting money, stealing phones and beating them if they resist. One commander was even accused of raping two women in a family, although he has denied it. The militia, however, say they have no choice but to take money from residents as they have failed to get any of the salary promised by the government when they agreed to fight the Taliban.

The Arbakai are not formally a part of the Afghan National Security Forces but are supposed to be financed and armed by the Ministry of Interior.

Around 1,500 Arbakais are deployed across Kunduz.

Habibullah, 20, who lives in Mangthapa village of Chardara district, says the fighters assigned to protect their village take 2,000 afghanis ($45) from people every month to give to their commanders.

“Arbakai came to my house a week ago and told me I should give them 200 afghanis for every married man in the house. When I asked why, he said: ‘I don’t have time to answer your question, bring the money tomorrow’,” Habibullah said.

“We gave them 600 afghanis because three of our male family members are married,” he said.

“We thought that because the Taliban had been pushed out of our area, we would be safe and not live in fear, but now we are paying money to the Arbakais. We don’t have enough income. We survive on our daily wages.”

Some residents of Kunduz say the Arbakais are also taking their mobile phones.

Daud Mohammad, 33, from Imam Sahib district, said: “Tribal militants grabbed my cell phone when I was on my way to the district centre 10 days ago.

“When I asked them why they were taking my phone, they beat me with the butt of their guns. I have wounds on my head and my forehead.

“It is not only me, there are dozens of residents whose mobiles have been stolen by the tribal militia.”

People’s representatives are also concerned and say that if the government does not take action it will lose the people’s favour and they will once more back the Taliban.

During a visit to Kunduz last month, Bismillah Muhammadi, the interior minister, said the Arbakais would be dissolved and replaced by the local police.

Amanullah Atmanzai, a tribal elder and member of the High Peace Council, said the existence of the tribal militia was a serious concern for people in the proince. “They are mainly criminals and warlords which are working for their own benefit and not for the people.”

Not only do they not ensure security, but they bring misfortune, steal money from people to buy weapons and beat villagers, he said.

“We have requested President Hamid Karzai to take serious steps and the president has promised to replace the Arbakais with the local police.

“It is important to increase the number of army and police recruits. If the government is serious about integrating the tribal militia into the army and police, they must make sure they are not warlords or criminals, and are those who accept the law,” Amanullah said.

Some Arbakai commanders also confirm the problems but blame the government for reneging on promises to provide them with salaries and weapons.

 “I was a commander for (Junbish Islami) party, when Kunduz security officials told me to start fighting the Taliban, promising me enough money and weapons,” said Nabi Gichi, a commander in Qala Zal district of Kunduz province.

“For the past year-and-a-half, I have been fighting the Taliban, but with fewer weapons, ammunition and money. So I am compelled to get money from residents to provide security in the district,” he said.

“If Arbakais are integrated into the local police force and receive enough money, they will not have to harass the people,” he said.

Some commanders themselves say that if they join the local police, it will stop the problems in Kunduz. Bakla, a commander in Ali Abad district, said the Arbakais were getting a bad name because of the behaviour of some people who were not members of their militia. “That is why I want to join the local police force. If not, I will put my weapon down and go home.”

“Some people hold their weapon and say ‘I am an Arbakai’, they grab people’s money and other things. They are thieves and robbers. They defame the Arbakais.”

Kunduz officials say other armed groups will soon be replaced by local police.

Gen. Abdul Rahman Seadkhili, Kunduz police chief, said: “We will have a 1,200 strong local police force for Kunduz, and we are trying to recruit suitable individuals, especially those who are guaranteed by tribal elders,” he said.

The process should take about two months. Already, 100 local police have graduated from training and have been deployed in Taloka, where they receive 9,000 afghanis per month, he said.

“I accept that some Arbakais have bothered people, but the majority of them are good people. When they are integrated with the local police and receive a monthly salary, then they will not annoy people and will obey the rules and law,” he said.

He said that anyone who had a complaint about the Arbakais should talk to the police. He pointed to an incident where a militia commander, Zia, had killed a villager, due to some personal enmity, and had been arrested and imprisoned.

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