Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghanistan: Aug/Sep '11 Part II

IWPR story revealed that members of village security forces in Kapisa province were quitting over poor pay and equipment.
By Maiwand Safi

High-level action has been taken to address problems facing government-backed paramilitary forces in Kapisa province after the publication of an IWPR report highlighting concerns that the militias could disintegrate.

In Afghan Local Police Defect Over Pay, published on August 31, members of the paramilitary forces - village militias brought under a centralised command structure but remaining distinct from the Afghan National Police, ANP – complained of poor pay and equipment. Many were leaving their posts to seek work elsewhere.

After the report was published, Kapisa governor Mehraboddin Safi said that he had contacted high-ranking officials, who have started taking serious measures to address the complaints expressed in the article.

“We hope all the media outlets will work like IWPR to solve problems, not cause their growth,” he added.

The governor of Tagab district, Abdol Hakim Akhondzada, said he had been very concerned about the consequences of the possible collapse of the paramilitary forces.

He said that the road connecting Tagab district to the centre of Kapisa province had been controlled by armed opposition groups for many years, serving to isolate the district.

But in the last two years, the road had been much safer – due, he said, to the contribution of the local police forces.

“When the paramilitaries were faced with problems, we were worried that the connection between the district and the centre would be disrupted again,” he said. “But after IWPR wrote a report about this, many officials' attention was drawn to the issue and the problems were solved as a result. Now the paramilitaries can carry out their job as they did before.”

Mazar, the commander of the paramilitary forces in the Landakhel area, also welcomed the IWPR report, pointing out that since its publication many of those who had considered leaving had now changed their minds.

“Dozens of our young men left these jobs and went to Iran to find work because of the lack of salaries and supplies..,” he said. “When the IWPR reporter came to the area in very difficult conditions of conflict and prepared a report about our problems, the attention of our leaders was attracted to these issues. We no longer have a problem regarding wages and vehicles.”

Mazar also reacted to concerns by locals reflected in the IWPR article about the alleged bad behaviour of some paramilitary force members.

“We dismissed some individuals, who had mistreated people,” he said.

Locals also confirmed that the behaviour of the paramilitary forces had changed.

Ata Mohamamd, a resident of the Ahamdzai area in Tagab, said, “They treat people well nowadays. They do not harass the public anymore. They even help the people solve their problems in some cases.”

One paramilitary, Shah Agha, from the Tagab area, said he was very happy that he no longer had to consider leaving his job and family to go to Iran to find work.

“I thank the IWPR reporter for taking a risk by coming here and taking our problems to the officials,” he said. “If the reporter had not given our voice a platform, there would be neither paramilitary forces nor any youths in Tagab district because they would all have fled the area.

“We are at home now and serve our country which is a great achievement.”

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