Petraeus: Security transition to begin next week
KABUL (PAN): General David Petraeus, the top commander of international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters Saturday that in a week and half the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will begin handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.
At that time, Afghan forces will become solely responsible for maintaining security in three entire provinces and four provincial capitals, areas encompassing 25 percent of Afghanistan’s population.
Those places include Bamyan, Herat and Panjshir provinces, as well as the cities of Kabul, Lashkargah, Mazar-i-Sharif and Mehtarlam.
As the security transition proceeds, the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) will grow by 50 thousand. Petraeus also singled out the Afghan Local Police for playing an important role in Afghanistan’s future.
"This is an important program because no one protects their home like a homeowner and this really mobilizes a community,” said Petraeus. “When community representatives, shura council members, nominate their sons to defend their village, their valleys, this is them defending their community and showing their commitment to fight the Taliban."
Introduced last year as an essential step toward transferring security to Afghan forces, the Afghan Local Police initiative has received at least $35 million in funding from the US Department of Defense. So far, the initiative has trained and equipped about 10 thousand local policemen, and plans to add an additional five thousand.
But critics contend that the programme has done little more than empower local militias to terrorize the population.On a fact-finding mission this spring, Refugees International collected numerous complaints about Afghan Local Police from individuals who had been displaced by the war. The allegations included murder, theft, bribery, and intimidation.
The United Nations, Oxfam International and a number of other non-governmental organizations have also criticized the initiative for its lack of oversight and inadequate training. And The New York Times recently reported that some Afghan Local Police commanders are imposing an extra-governmental “Islamic tax” on their jurisdictions.
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