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Charikar Angered by Security Force Presence

US and Afghan troops agree to leave town at the request of Kabul officials.
By Mohammad Saber
A military coordination centre staffed by United States and Afghan forces is moving away from a provincial capital where local people have complained about the army presence.



The Operational Coordination Center, Provincial, OCCP, is based in the police station at Charikar, the capital of Parwan province, which has been one of the safer places in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taleban in 2001.



The Taleban encountered stiff resistance in the province when they ran the country and, though still active in much of Afghanistan, they have never been able to gain much headway in Parwan.



A member of the US forces who declined to give his name told IWPR the troops were in Parwan to cooperate with the Afghan security forces and that local people should be happy about their presence.



"The people should not be worried about possible insecurity in the province, because we are ensuring security for them,” he said.



He said coalition forces patrol various districts of the province including Charikar town - which is close to the American military’s giant Bagram air base - but no one has been bothered by them so far.



As part of the deployment, a company of US army personnel together with Afghan troops set up the coordination centre several months ago, angering the local population.



Sayed Mahmud, a Charikar shopkeeper, shakes his head in despair as a convoy of foreign military vehicles passes by.



"I do not know whether these forces make us more or less secure. I am sure that life for the people in Charikar is more dangerous because suicide attacks and roadside bombs come together with these forces and it is the civilians who will suffer,” he said.



Mir Abdolshokur, speaker of the provincial council in Parwan, believes that the presence of the foreign forces puts restrictions on local people.



"The people are deprived of their freedoms by the deployment of these forces. People are not comfortable about visiting their friends at night, because the foreign forces may be nervous about them moving around at this time,” he said.



Provincial politicians have been passing local concerns about the coordination centre to central government and people in Charikar believe this has led to the decision to move it. No date has been given for its relocation.



Major General Mawlana Abdorrahman Sayed Kheli, security commander in Parwan province, said, "An understanding has been reached on the basis of which the coordination centre and the foreign forces will be positioned far from the city."



He said he hoped this would deal with people’s concerns but did not give any details.



A US military spokesman confirmed the move, “The OCCP … is moving, but not because of local opposition but rather because the Afghan leadership wanted it in a new location.” He said land for the new centre was being secured but did not give further details.



The foreign forces, who include some from the United Arab Emirates as well as Americans, have been using the police headquarters for about four months.



Abdolzaher Salangi, a member of parliament for Parwan, said security in the area was already adequate without the need for foreign forces. "Parwan police have the capability and capacity to fight our enemies, because the security forces in Parwan are supported by the people. There is no need for the foreign forces to be present in this town."



He said all the people oppose the Taleban and have always cooperated with the security forces.



Some residents had warned that if the international troops continued to deploy in their town, they would lose faith in the government and may stop cooperating with it.



One resident, Shahpur, said, "The presence of the foreign forces means that the government does not trust us. We defended the government ... We did not cooperate with the Taleban. Security was ensured.”



Mohammad Saber Saffor is an IWPR trainee in Parwan province.

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