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Editorial: Mounting crime rate in Kabul

Following the hike in criminal activities in the heart of Afghanistan – capital Kabul – there has been an operation launched and a scheme devised by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to rein the crime-stained situation in. This operation and plan against criminals are being waged after several people were killed or injured in armed robbery incidents in Kabul. The recent one was the stab-to-death incident of a 22-year old student by armed robbers– something that served as a wake-up call for government authorities because residents launched a furious security advocacy campaign named ‘Kabul Is Not Safe’ through social media networks. Shortly after that, a recent report revealed that MoI has taken 18 crime suspects into custody on the charges of robbery, theft, carrying weapons and disrupting the public order. The MoI’s recent plan to deal with the spike in crimes is to reshuffle all Kabul-based police officials and replace them with newly-graduated police cadets over the next three months. Although these symbolic measures give hope to people, there is still a need for stern determination to cope with the insecure environment the Kabul inhabitants are living in.

After the intensity of the situation was brought to authorities’ fore by Kabul inhabitants, the ability of police to bust 18 suspects in a single round-the-clock operation speaks of the negligence of the Afghan policemen in the past few months. It suggests that they have been idle and there has been a dereliction of duty so far on the part of MoI for failing to secure citizens as they sprang into action only after coming under fire by residents. For the police force, gaining the trust of the Afghan masses is crucial because, given the recent happenings, they are under the impression that policemen are colluding with criminals. They believe that’s the reason the police are unable to prevent crimes. Moreover, the scheme to replace police authorities is a good measure and will be a contributing factor in diminishing crime rates; however, this structural change hints at the possibility that MoI might suffer from an expertise vacuum. Therefore, the MoI should pay serious heed to feasibility in this regard and not just announce nominal plans. Rather than coming up with a 3-month plan, the MoI should commit to carrying out constant remedial activities in police ranks. Moreover, they should clean the streets of Kabul — as well as the entire country in the long-run – from this menace by continuing their hunts, crackdowns and operations until all criminals, robbers and pocket-pickers are arrested. The ministry should step up efforts for increasing the police strength and mobile patrols so that they emerge victorious against the large criminal networks and gangs. Meanwhile, they should be prudent and take on a proactive approach in identifying and arresting criminals rather than acting only after such crimes have taken the lives of innocents. The police force should conduct rigorous combing operations along with other security agencies to deter criminals and prevent the resurgence of offenders.

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