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Editorial: Arming militia groups a recipe for disaster

In Afghanistan, every action and step taken is influenced by war and conflict-like thinking. While the country seems to be on the threshold of launch to the intra-Afghan talks but apprehensions about the continuation of war are simultaneously raised. About a week back, some military analysts dubbed a program titled Security Charter, which was launched by the government in July this year, a threat, saying it entailed arms distribution to warlords and would lead to public intimidation. The government reasons the charter is aimed at strengthening security and effectively combating crime through public mobilization. However, the Ministry of Interior rejects the impression that arms would be distributed to people under the plan. In the meantime, the US has made it clear that it wouldn’t support arming any group in Afghanistan except for the Afghan national security and defense forces. US Charge d’Affaires in Kabul Karen Decker opposed the idea altogether last week and reiterated that her country’s assistance only went to support the Afghan security forces. Having endured conflicts and wars for over four decades, it should be common knowledge now that arming warlords and militia commanders in Afghanistan is a recipe for disaster. One of the many reasons for war and civil conflicts is the existence of irresponsible gunmen and militia that engage in infighting and disrupt public order. A textbook example is that of militia Commander Alipour who seems to be out of government’s control now. His armed men have multiple times kidnapped, beaten and even killed people and antagonists in the past. In a recent bold move, armed men associated with him set ablaze two police security posts and beat 10 policemen in Wardak while taking away their belongings as well. He has gained so much support that arresting him is out of the question – something that has happened as well but didn’t produce any positive results. Security forces last year apprehended him but he was released soon enough through second vice president Sarwar Danish’s mediation. Similarly, there are other such unruly commanders who could pose a threat to public safety or be a reason for the continuation of the war. Nizamuddin Qaisari, a commander of public uprising forces, charged with violation of human rights was arrested two times but released without facing any consequences. At this juncture, relying on militia commanders for security would be a lame and mistaken move. The least one can learn from the four decades of war is that distributing weapons to illegal groups has proven to be a failed experiment. Therefore, if the government wants to improve security, then it should do it in an official capacity through assisting and increasing the strength of Afghan security forces. Moreover, it’s seen that the government cannot exercise authority on the current irresponsible militia groups, how could it guarantee that the new groups would do its bidding and not commit violations? Otherwise, if the government goes ahead with the program which is feared by the public, then it would be the biggest blunder ever and might even result in creating reasons for the continuation of the Afghan war, an unwanted scenario which should be avoided at all costs.

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