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Govt’s apathy turns Baghlan into Taliban’s safe haven: Lawmakers

Acting police chief confirms presence of insurgents

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: Public representatives in the parliament from Baghlan province said that inattention of the government has turned the province into a recruitment center of the Taliban militants.

They said that lack of coordination between leaders of the National Unity Government (NUG) has provided an opportunity to the insurgent group to recruit fighters in Baghlan province. The legislators said that hundreds of madrassa (religious school) students and loafers were recruited by the Taliban but the government remained unaware.

The reaction came in the aftermath of Kunduz attack. To retake Kunduz city, security forces have launched a large-scale operation and killed hundreds of militants. Around 100 insurgents who were killed in Kunduz were from Baghlan. Their dead bodies were handed over to their families a few days ago.

Muhammad Faisal Sami, a senator from Baghlan, told Afghanistan Times that his native province has become a safe haven for the Taliban because thousands of madrassa students and jobless youth are recruited by the insurgent group due to lack of coordination among the security organizations.

Afghan and foreign militants have presence in major populated areas of Baghlan including Dand-e-Ghori, Dand-e-Shahabuddin, outskirts of Pulikhumri city, central Baghlan, Aab-Qol and some areas of Borka district, he said.

“The Taliban are not only recruiting young people from these areas but also imposed taxes on the locals and collected large sums of money in Usher and Zakat. The Taliban send fighters from the province to other areas to challenge writ of the government,” Sami maintained.

When asked how the Taliban recruit people in Baghlan in the presence of security agencies, Sami replied that lack of coordination between the NUG leaders and absence of air support provided this opportunity to the insurgent group.

Responding to another question he said that Uzbek, Pakistani and Taliban militants have presence in the province and are fighting against the security forces.

Not long ago, elders of the province said that the recent agreement between the Afghan government and local tribal chieftains was one of the major factors that empowered insurgents in Baghlan. Many people say that the deal was signed with the Taliban. However, official sources deny it.

However, Sami said that the agreement was signed by the tribal chieftains; the minister for tribal affairs Muhammad Gulab Mangal, and local officials. He said the agreement was a big achievement for the Taliban because the militants could easily recruit people and manage many operations from the Dand-e-Ghori district.

Muhammad Azeem Muhseni, member of the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of the parliament from Baghlan province, said that mismanagement of the NUG paved the ground for the Taliban to recruit criminals.

When asked if the secret services agencies are aware of the recruitment of youth by the Taliban, he replied that when the government is unable to bring security to an area, ultimately the criminals and loafers would join the Taliban—by choice or by force.

Naseem Mudabir told Tolonews on Thursday that Baghlan became stronghold for the Taliban, especially after the Dand-e-Ghori district agreement was signed.

He said the Taliban could insecure a number of districts including Doshi, the central Baghlan, Tala-o-Barfak, Khenjan and Borka. He also said that there are Chechens and Pakistani terrorists besides Afghan Taliban.

The acting police chief of Baghlan, Abdul Rasheed Basheer, in an interview with Afghanistan Times confirmed that the Taliban has presence in the province, but said that there is full coordination among the security organizations.

“There is better coordination among the Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Local Police and Civil Order Police,” he said while denying that presence of the insurgents was linked to the poor coordination. He said the security deteriorated in April 2015 when the law and order condition became critical in Badakhshan province. The acting police chief said that before the “security crisis” in Badakhshan and Kunduz, the situation was better.

Basheer confirmed that the Taliban was recruiting people and had presence in many areas. He said the insurgents have presence in the central Baghlan, Dand-e-Ghori and other areas.

He said the security forces have planned to clear the province from Taliban.

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