Afghanistan approves `village militias`

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 23:50

Kabul: Afghanistan Wednesday approved the
establishment of a local police force, akin to controversial
village militias that have been widely debated in the war-torn
country, the government said.

The Local Police Force (LPF) would come under the direct
control of the Interior Ministry, which has authority over all
Afghanistan`s police forces, President Hamid Karzai`s office
said in a statement.

It said "all armed groups" outside Interior Ministry
control would be disbanded and reintegrated into the LPF.
Approval came at a meeting of the national security council,
chaired by Karzai.

"The meeting agreed on several aspects of the proposal
including the creation of the LPF under the MoI authority and
direct control," the statement said.

"It was also agreed that for the purpose of the rule of
law, all armed groups outside the Interior Ministry be
gradually disbanded and then be re-integrated into the Local
Police Force as and where necessary."

The issue of grass-roots security forces has been
contentious in Afghanistan, where warlords with private armies
hold seats in Parliament.

Karzai and the commander of foreign forces in the
country, US General David Petraeus, have met at least nine
times in the past 10 days as they have tried to reach an
agreement on creating the local forces, officials have said.

The statement from Karzai`s office said Petraeus and US
ambassador Karl Eikenberry had also attended the security
council meeting.

US media have reported that Petraeus, who took over
command of 1,40,000 US and NATO troops on July 4, had been
pushing for the establishment of Iraq-style tribal militias to
fight Taliban-linked militants in remote Afghan villages.

The reports said Karzai had opposed the plan because of
its potential to weaken his government.

Karzai`s spokesman yesterday confirmed that talks have
been going on between the two men, but played down any
difference of opinion on the militias and said a decision was
imminent.

Waheed Omar conceded there were widespread concerns about
repeating the mistakes of the 1980s, when local militias were
set up during the Soviet occupation to fight the mujahideen,
which then morphed into private armies.

"We all know that it has good points as well as some
threats. We`re discussing jointly how to remove those threats
before taking a decision," he said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 - 23:50

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