Senators for rethink on pro-govt militias
06 September, 2012
KABUL: Meshrano Jirga, upper house, members on Tuesday voiced their apprehensions about pro-government militias, insisting on an investigation into Sunday's massacre of civilians in northern Kunduz province.
Ten people were killed and seven others wounded when dozens of pro-government militiamen attacked villagers in retaliation for a colleague's death at the hands of Taliban in the Kanmo area on the outskirts of Kunduz City, the provincial capital.
Officials said a local militia commander and 20 fighters launched the assault after the Taliban killed two men, including a militia fighter, and dumped their bodies in the village on September 1. Local militias have been formed by the central government and NATO to combat the rebels in remote areas.
A lawmaker from eastern Kunar province, Rafiullah Haideri, said the militias had been raised by former jihadi leaders who had stakes in the government. He claimed the ex-jihadi leaders wanted to use the armed groups for their protection in case the government was threatened. "These groups are not like police, but are private militias."
Acting on a proposal from former US commander in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, the government started raising local militias in 2010. Their current strength is estimated at 15,000. Controlled by the Ministry of Interior, the militias keep security for their respective areas.
A parliamentarian from southern Zabul province accused the militias of creating security problems for residents. Mohammad Duad Ihsas asked the government to dissolve and disarm the groups as soon as possible. He suggested the militias be merged into national police, if necessary.
Senator Gul Ahmad Azeemi from western Farah province claimed a number of "irresponsible individuals" had been given weapons in the name of the so-called local militias.
He said illegal armed groups possessed more weapons and ammunition than the regular police force. "It is untrue that the government has disarmed irresponsible individuals under the DDR programme. Several illegal armed groups are still operating in villages. They have heavy weapons, including artillery."
Maulvi Abdul Wahab Irfan, an MP from northern Takhar province, suggested a rethink on the advantages and disadvantages of the militias. Referring to the Kunduz incident, he claimed many people having personal enmities had joined the forces to settle scores with their opponents.
Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said though the establishment of militias was the demand of the people, yet the move had created problems in some parts of the country.