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Editorial: Police force and desertion

Running a country with meager resources is a tightrope walk for any leader. Afghanistan is dependent on foreign assistance to support and security forces and other constitutional bodies. When Iraq, Syria and Libya are in media headlines for the rise of Islamic State and rebel groups, Afghanistan is covered for wide range of issues. The problems are many such as the stalled peace process, rampant corruption, violence against women and children, growing insecurity, capital flight, water and energy crisis, food insecurity, malnutrition, polio cases, training of children by militants, increase civilian and military casualties, differences between the National Unity Government (NUG) leaders, timber smuggling, illegal mining, landmines, and most importantly desertion in police officers ranks. According to the Wall Street Journal, around 36,000 policemen deserted the force in 2015. The desertion cases increased due to poor leadership.

As a fact, the NUG cannot resolve all these problems in such a short period of time. However, it could be criticized for its flawed policies that inflict irreparable damages. Deteriorating law and order situation is an outcome of these failed security policies for which the nation is paying heavy price. Absence of defense and interior ministers are speaking volumes about performance and strategies of the current government. Ministry of Defense is headed by a caretaker who has been supported by presidential decrees because the Constitution did not allow any caretakers to hold such important position for more than two months.

Similarly, the position of interior minister is lying vacant. Noorul Haq Olumi left the post after differences, though he was appointed as ambassador to the Netherland. Olumi tried to address the gray areas and improve the police force but his suggestions were ignored. He acknowledged it in media interview. Recent report of the Wall Street Journal uncovers the blanket from this not-so-long hidden fact where lack of attention and interest are underlined as reasons for Olumi’s resign. The government had not yet responded in this regard.

Most probably, the NUG leadership knows when and where it hit the wrong nail. The important question which begs the answer is that how can the leaders negotiate and reconcile with the Taliban when they cannot overcome internal differences. Talking to the militant groups and convincing them to renounce violence is more a far too difficult task than settling internal disputes. However, the leaders seem reluctant to switch mode and set aside their differences and pay attention to the important matters of national interest.

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