News Analysis |
Afghanistan has particularly been a hard terrain for foreign forces as well as for the embryonic Afghan security forces for years. There is a constant and prevalent threat of insurgency from Afghan Taliban and, adding to the troubles of government forces, a new militant organization, emerged from the breakaway faction of Taliban, more ruthless and cruel in their discourse, ISIS has managed to hold ground.
Afghan Police force which is inadequately trained and fighting the battle against the uneven odds has not been paid for their services since March 2018, a revelation came from a government official.
Last year, NATO coalition withheld the salaries of thousands of Afghan National Army contingents which led to the introduction of a biometric verification of the armed force personnel and hence, improving the accounting of soldiers.
As many as 30,000 policemen have not been paid. The budget for Afghanistan is largely derived from the donor countries. Particularly the defence budget, including the salaries of serving Afghan soldiers, is taken care of by NATO coalition and top generals sitting at NATO bases inside Afghanistan.
The reason cited by the Afghan officials for their inability to release salaries is holding back of payout by the American-led coalition who fear that most of the money is going down the drain of corruption. There have been instances in the past where the existence of ghost soldiers was discovered with a disparity of thousands of papers as compared to real men in uniform.
The depth of the problem in the Interior Ministry was revealed, once again, when two large fighting units of the Afghan police were incorporated into the army. When it came time for the transition, the numbers on paper were off by thousands from the actual number of men that could be accounted for, two senior officials said.
While culprits for doing corruption are mostly the top-ranked Police officers, the fallout has to be taken by the common policemen who come from modest and poor economic backgrounds. “Our district has been surrounded for a year and a half,” said Abdul Samad, the police commander of the Girziwan district in northern Faryab Province.
“The police cannot go to the provincial centres for biometric registration, and biometric is not coming here.” “Not only can’t the police, but even his brother or uncle or other relatives travel the road to Maimana city. If the Taliban find out that he is a brother of a police or the uncle of a police, they will slit his throat or fill him with bullets right there” he added.
Corruption is by far the biggest problem after terrorism which Afghanistan had to deal with right now. From government officials to military generals, there are reports of everybody being hand in glove in the process. Last year, NATO coalition withheld the salaries of thousands of Afghan National Army contingents which led to the introduction of a biometric verification of the armed force personnel and hence, improving the accounting of soldiers.
NATO does not reveal the exact figures of ghost soldiers who exist only on paper. But last year $62 million were said to be saved in terms of “cost avoidance” by not paying the unaccounted-for personnel.
Funds coming from donor countries are funnelled into the system by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). A spokesman for the American-led coalition directed requests for comment to the United Nations Development Program. Officials from that agency would not comment.
Biometric verification of Policemen has already been started in the urban areas whereas its implementation in the rural areas poses many hurdles. Most of the fighting is taking place in rural Afghanistan where there are no such facilities. Officials in Kunduz, Zabul, Oruzgan and Farah Provinces, where there has been intense fighting, say the registration teams go to provincial centres and expect police officers from other districts to come to them. The roads are often either blocked or heavily infiltrated by the Taliban.
For the success of American-led coalition with their mission of a safe Afghanistan, it is very important that Afghan security forces are strengthened with adequate training and resources. But at the same time, corruption within the government faction needs to be uprooted to ensure the writ of the government and trust of Afghan public will eventually be restored.