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    Planned national security strategy draws mixed reaction

    KABUL (PAN): Afghans hold different views regarding a national security strategy currently being worked out by a parliamentary panel.

    Shukriya Barakzai, the parliamentary defence commission chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News the panel had been working on the strategy for the past few days.

    She did not say when the commission would complete its work. When completed, the strategy will be presented to the house for approval before being sent to President Karzai.

    She linked the success of the strategy to people's cooperation, training and equipping Afghan forces. She said they had earlier asked the government to reinstate demobilised security personnel as part of the reform process.

    The Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) programme, aimed at returning combatants to normal life, began in October 2003, as a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and the United Nations Development Programme.

    Militants’ weapons were collected by mobile disarmament units and ex-combatants adopted a “roadmap for reintegration”, under which they began vocational retraining and joining the new Afghan army.

    Under the programme, 63,000 military and police officers and combatants were demobilised.

    Barakzai said they had also demanded that the government disband the provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs) and instead strengthen government departments.

    President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly said the institutions running parallel to the government must be dissolved. In compliance with the presidential directives, many private security firms have been disarmed and abolished.

    Another member of the commission, Haji Sakhi Mashwanai, called the national security strategy a giant step toward improvement in the security situation. He said training Afghan forces should be part of the strategy.

    He suggested job descriptions of police, army and intelligence officials should be clearly defined in the strategy because sometimes the security personnel interfered in each other's affairs.

    Mashwanai also called for efforts to promote patriotism and maintain ethnic harmony and national unity among security forces.

    However, common Afghans expressed different views on the issue. A fourth-year student of the journalism faculty at Kabul University, Abu Bakar Jabarkhel, said there was a need for coordination and cooperation among security forces.

    He urged the international community to continue to strengthen Afghan forces until they stood on their own feet. He also asked neighbouring countries to stop interfering in the country's internal affairs.

    A Kabul resident, Yasir, also blamed neighbours for the bad security situation in Afghanistan, saying common people should be convinced into throwing their weight behind security forces to help foil the vicious designs of non-state actors.

    A resident of Mirwais Maidan, Syed Aqa, believed a process of negotiation with rebels would help end the ongoing conflict. "Sincere efforts at peacemaking be made in talks with armed groups. And there should be no preconditions."

    He said if the militants laid down their arms and agreed to accept the constitution, there was no need for peace talks. Aqa added the only solution to the conflict was a negotiation as the war and use of force could not bring peace.

    The national security strategy is evolving at a time of deteriorating security in Afghanistan. Roughly 130,000 international troops are fighting insurgents alongside roughly 300,000 Afghan security personnel.

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