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Editorial: Reforming ALP

Today the good news was about rescue of Ali Haider Gilani, son of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. It made the nation proud. When the entire military, police force and intelligence agencies of Pakistan failed to stop the kidnappers from entering Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then crossing the Durand Line, a small group of Afghan commandos rescued Ali Haider. Earlier, reports confirmed that Ali Haider was kept in Nowshera district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Pakistani forces failed to rescue him. The raid in Nowshera ended with no achievement. Instead of criticizing their own government, most of Pakistani analysts started blaming Afghan government. Fortunately, Afghans proved that they have no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ militants. Terrorists are terrorists and their sponsors also deserve severe punishment.

However, this good news was accompanied by a bad news. Thirty-four policemen defected to the Taliban in Dolina district of Ghor province. According to official sources, the Afghan Local Police (ALP) commander Ziaul Haq along with his 29 ALP comrades and four Afghan National Police (ANP) personnel pledged allegiance to the Taliban in Khak Yarak area of the district. What Pakistani media cannot dare to do, Afghan media shall do—criticizing the government for its failures.

It is not the first incident of defection. Several such cases were reported in the past five years. However, the former and current leaders paid no heed towards this serious issue. It is believed that the government has no control over the ALP because it is established by powerful individuals at local level. These individuals enjoy cordial ties with powerful people in the system. Thus, it is very difficult to hold the ALP commanders accountable for their deeds and mistakes. A few black sheep is defaming the whole force. There is no denying to the fact that local police had rendered matchless sacrifices to establish writ of the government in insecure areas. Performance and achievements of these cops is beyond question. But, those who are defaming the ALP shall be brought to the court of justice.

Through them, the weapons that the government is providing to the local police force are finding way to the Taliban. In serious crimes it would be hard to investigate who used these weapons, the militants or government employees. The more serious issue is the creation of security vacuum created by the local police commanders defecting to the Taliban. Moreover, the defectors can leak important information to the insurgents.

To address this issue in more efficient way, the government shall nationalize the ALP. It shall be merged with ANP, so same force and same rules will prevent such incidents from happening. The commanders shall have no links with the warlords or influential people. The government shall force reforms on the ALP after the today’s incident because it is better to be late than never.

Furthermore, the national intelligence agency, NDS, shall be directed to investigate the case and carry out thorough background check on other ALP commanders. In addition to that the Ministry of Interior should collect data about performance of the ALP commanders to avoid such cases in future. If the defectors were not punished it will diminish the legitimacy of the system—the system which promises security and stability.  Moreover, a special team of researchers shall be established to probe such incidents and record activities of the local police force. The fundamental lack of central law-enforcement oversight is also a serious issue which should be addressed on war footing.

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