The idea to use local militias to secure the peace in Afghanistan has been in discussion for a while now. Now there is a new initiative that will integrate former Taliban fighters into Afghan Local Police units.
US General David Petraeus wants to turn former Taliban fighters into policemen
In many regions there are already new units referred to as the "Afghan Local Police" (ALP). These local police units are made up of local citizens who want to protect their villages.
Joerg Denker from a German children's aid group says the security situation is still catastrophic in Afghanistan, where suicide attacks, mines, missiles, raids and attacks pose a threat to people on a daily basis. "There is so much violence because the country is still in a war-like state - there is fighting in many regions that is dangerous to the people, especially the children."
Projects that aim at stabilizing the situation and enforcing peace are thus very important. That is why the United Nations and ISAF are supporting the initiative brought forth by ISAF commander General David Petraeus to reintegrate former Taliban fighters into society by training them as auxiliary policemen.
It is not certain how many guerrilla and Taliban fighters there are in Afghanistan
"We must protect our villages"
Some Afghan citizens have given positive responses to the project. Mahmoud from the southern city Kandahar says it is an old tradition for people to protect their villages and the auxiliary policemen could be used for that and to ensure security.
"The auxiliary police should use their potential and make sure no fighting breaks out between the different ethnic groups, only then will development make sense. And our villages would be safer."
A man who wishes to be called Mullah Din Mohamad is a former Taliban fighter who now works as an auxiliary policeman in his home village. He says that at first, the people in his village barricaded themselves with weapons. Nonetheless he believes the auxiliary police will help security.
He says they don't get much training, but that their advantage is "that we help protect our own communities and we know our way around. If there are strangers in our villages, we recognize them and can confront them immediately and turn them over to the police if need be."
Experts discuss many ideas to strenghten Afghan police forces
Why give more weapons to Afghanistan?
It is still uncertain whether the Afghan government will support the project. And there are still some open questions, for example, how many guerilla fighters there are and in which provinces, and how many of them used to fight for the Taliban. There is a large unknown number of armed militia groups with different ideologies and causes. That's why Citha Maass, Afghan expert at the German think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, is highly against establishing militias with former Taliban fighters.
She says, creating new militias "automatically means giving more weapons to the people and that would conflict with and nullify efforts for disarmament. And you can imagine that this could lead to new conflicts, which themselves would also have to be taken care of with militancy."
Maass is in favor of reintegrating former Taliban fighters into Afghan society. But she believes this should be done through education and job training. She says education and work would allow them to take on responsibility in building up and developing their country. And it would also ensure the safety of the people.
Authors: Franziska Schneider / Hekmatullah Aslami (sb)
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein