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Editorial: Revisit policies

Our security policymakers who are mostly politicians with no experience of modern military tactics, are caught in difficult situation but yet they are unnerved. They are unnerved because media has no access to insecure parts of the country and cannot report on the ongoing wave of violence independently. Even if a few reports emerged, the authorities are quick in quashing these news stories with furious statements. If the casualties suffered by the militants and mentioned in the statements of the law enforcement agencies were counted, the figures would be shocking. According to the press releases of the security organizations, every day scores of insurgents are killed and injured. Sometimes over 60 militants are killed in a single day, let alone the injured and arrested.

Yet, here we are. The nation is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On one hand the militants are hiding in civilians homes and using them as a shield, but on the other hand the government deliberately turned a blind eye to the growing insecurity. People are tired of this inattention. Residents of Helmand and other highly insecure provinces have become tired of burying their relatives and friends. They are tired of the government’s lukewarm response. The policymaker may be trying their best to improve the fragile law and order situation and establish writ of the government. But, the problem is that they are not revisiting the failed policies. They are standing in the wrong corner.

First, there is need for modernizing the Afghan Local Police (ALP). ALP is always at the frontline. Their ability to respond quickly to complex and large-scale militant attacks is very important. Mere numbers do not provide leverage. The capability to maneuver better than the militants is a better military tactic to have advantage in the battleground. Unfortunately, the ALP commanders had not been trained properly. Short-term courses will do no good. Most of the police training courses are about use of heavy and light weapons and how to hold ground. That is the reason that in many cases we see the police force in defensive mode.

Second, the police force is not only fighting the criminals but also the terrorist organizations. Some of the terrorist organizations such as Daesh, al-Qaeda and Haqqani Network are sophisticated. To fight them, the Ministry of Interior shall establish a special anti-terrorism force. The force will not only blend to collect intelligence but would also monitor sleeper cells. It will help the government to target the shelters of terrorists and militants. Only a modern and well-trained unit in the police force can trace terror networks and their supporters. The time is ripe to review the policies and modernize the ALP and Afghan National Police to counter militancy effectively.

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