Security row threatens Afghan reconstruction: Report

Afghan govt has banned foreign companies from using private security guards.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2010, 11:55 AM IST

Washington: The US-funded reconstruction effort in Afghanistan is coming to an end because of an upcoming ban on foreign companies using private security guards, The Washington Post said quoting US officials and aid workers.

A US official said ending the reconstruction effort would have "catastrophic" consequences.

"If these projects grind to a halt, we might as well go home. They are essential to the counterinsurgency strategy," added the unnamed US official involved in the issue.

The ban, enacted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, goes into effect on December 17, but many US-funded development firms are beginning to shut down their projects refusing to be guarded by Afghan police and military they deem corrupt, ill-trained and too few.

The ban on private security guards, Afghanistan says operate with little oversight or accountability and often function as private militias, will also affect companies from other foreign countries and the United Nations.

Shutting down the reconstruction effort would leave more than 20,000 Afghans without work and affect about USD 1.5 billion in ongoing reconstruction work, another US official estimated.

It would disrupt a key component in the US-led anti-insurgency effort that relies on creating conditions of stability especially in the volatile south and east of Afghanistan by helping Afghan farmers and improving local government, the daily said.

The ban on private security guards applies to all development firms and non-governmental organisations, it added.

It also includes private contractors who guard supply convoys for the military bearing food, fuel and other essential supplies, as well as to international banks and other private entities whose services support reconstruction work.

The ban raises concerns about Karzai`s willingness to cooperate with the international community and could complicate year-end assessments of the war effort by the White House and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the daily said.

Bureau Report