Karzai rejects pleas not to disband security firms

The Afghan Prez rejected pleas from the international community to reverse his order to disband all private security companies.

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2010, 16:34 PM IST

Kabul: The Afghan President on Wednesday rejected pleas from the international community to reverse his order to disband all private security companies, saying money spent on those firms should be invested in the national police force instead.

President Hamid Karzai ordered Afghan and international security companies — which protect everything from development projects and NATO supply convoys to private houses — to disband by the end of the year. The decision has drawn criticism from the US and others who worry the Afghan security forces are not ready to assume the burden.

But Karzai told reporters he was tired of hearing complaints from embassies about the order, and said his decision to shut them down was final.

"We hope that our international friends will not get back to us or try to put pressure on us or talk about it in the media because none of these are going to work," he said. "These companies are closed — that is it."

He added that he hopes the international community "will help us in strengthening our police" instead of paying private companies for protection, and brushed aside concerns about the Afghan security forces, saying they "have the abilities needed" to assume the work load.

The Afghan police are notoriously corrupt, badly trained, and poorly paid. Many of them use drugs or desert their posts.

Karzai`s remarks follow several months of uncertainty over the status of private security companies in Afghanistan. Embassies, NATO, aid groups and media organizations all hire them for protection in the war-ravaged country.

On Sunday, Karzai`s office issued guidelines outlining very limited exemptions for private guards who will be able to operate inside international compounds and travel with diplomats and work as protection for international military installations.

Bureau Report