High-profile visits to Helmand evoke cynical response
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Visits of high-ranking officials to assess the security situationin southern Helmand province are merely for the sake of ostentation, public representatives and civil society activists alleged on Sunday.
Some of Helmand districts have been restive over the past three months, during which the central government has sent several delegations, including members of parliament, to assess the situation. But the trips have turned out to be an exercise in futility.
“Parliamentariansdid come here and promised working in coordination with people and the security personnel, but they have been unable to keep their promises. They have only appointed the people,” a public representative said.
Provincial council member Bashir Ahmad Shakir told Pajhwok Afghan News the delegates at times travelled to the province to enhance their personal clout with local officials or to make money.
The visiting delegations must mount pressure on the central government to deploy more troops to the province and provide necessary facilities for the security personnel, he suggested.
Abdul Majeed Akhundzada, deputy head of the council, also claimed such visits to the province were primarily aimed at promoting the petty interests of delegates. Useless as they have been, the trips should be avoided, he believed.
Meanwhile, Helmand Civil Society Chairman Sardar Mohammad Hamdard urged President Ashraf Ghani to visit the province to see the situation for himself instead of sending teams that had no authority to takeremedial steps.
The government should pay more attention to the province because most parts of Helmand were controlled by militants, he said, warning that cosmetic measures would not produce the desired results.
A civil society activist, Agha Mohammad Quraishi, held a similar view. The so-called security assessment missions would remain fruitlessas long as the provincial administration did not address key public issues.
“Wolesi Jirga members either want to campaign for future elections or try to coax local officials into appointing their blue-eyed individuals to government positions,” Quraishi concluded.
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