October 25, 2014

The Private Security Companies; Fire under the Ashes

By Khaama Press - Wed Feb 13 2013, 10:15 pm

 By Mohmmad Rasouli

AFGHANISTAN/It’s been more than a decade that the Afghan people have been panicking about the risk of terrorist attacks in their cities, and the latest statistics of security resources show an 11 percent increase in insurgent attacks. But recently it’s been observed that kidnapping and gun conflicts between the irresponsible armed forces in the heart of the capital, Kabul, are increasing; and these groups continue their violations without any fear of prosecution by security forces.

In the latest incident, the police in Kabul 12th district arrested some irresponsible armed forces, while they were abducting a businessman. These people are thought to be close to Mullah Tarakhel, a parliament member. They were released by pressure of high level officials immediately.

Though many years ago the government of Afghanistan was concerned about a possible overthrow of the administration by the Taliban forces, at the present the activities of irresponsible armed forces and private security companies are also snowballing this fear. The actions of these private companies undermine the authority of the government, and so Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, is demanding an end to the activities of these companies.

Despite the fact that it has been more than two years since President Hamid Karzai’s decree banning private security companies and the integration of them into the state security forces, the Interior Ministry has only been successful in integrating less than half of these companies into the state security forces. This is while the president has repeatedly stressed that private security companies have become parallel public security branches in the government, and this situation has led to corruption and slow progress of the public security branches.

However, Afghan people generally welcome the limiting of operations of these companies that employ around 40,000 individuals. This is because some of the companies are accused of highway robbery, shooting at innocent people, and the trafficking of drugs, weapons and even people.

Private security firms are mostly working for U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan. These private forces also protect the agencies of the UN, the Afghan media, foreign aid organizations and foreign embassies working in the country.

Evidence suggests that these forces do not consider the applicable laws and lifestyle of the people and they routinely have very harsh and rude behavior. Their power is unlimited and they benefit from substantial support from foreign governments and some state officials. Whenever they have crossed or violated the common law, they have not been convicted.

Most of the time these companies do not pay customs tax for their imported equipment, which is a sign of their disrespect for the rule of law. However, these companies have been complaining for years that it is practically impossible to import their required armored vehicles and weapons into Afghanistan without paying bribes.

With all these matters, international aid agencies, the NGOs and foreign missions say that the nonexistence of these forces is a threat to implement relief and development projects in the country, as they rely heavily on private security forces for their security. These organizations have claimed that from the beginning of the dissolution of private security companies, many projects worth millions of dollars and aid to the states have been suspended.

Even though the issue of dissolving private security firms has become an all-on conflict between the Afghan governments and its Western allies (especially the United States) the more intensified struggle is between the president and the government officials.  Most of the government officials are business owners too, and their friends and relatives benefit from the profits of these private security companies either directly or indirectly.

It seems that the intensity of the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country has increased concerns about how the dissolution of the security companies and the integration of them into the country’s main security force will be.

While many of the nation’s armed forces and police are busy fighting insurgents and terrorists, the Interior Ministry is trying to furnish the special branch of the police called Protecting the Public.  This branch is responsible for the integration of private security companies. However, most of the force’s education officials announced that these forces are still unprepared to assume responsibility for security assistance projects.

The force consists of 18 to 20 thousand people that could help to prevent violations of private security companies. The government can assume responsibility for security, this profitable industry, to meet its budget deficit.

But it must be remembered that there is much concern about the possible influence of the rebel forces infiltrating the ranks of these new public forces. The Interior Ministry and other security agencies must apply for special arrangements to take care of the employment of these forces.

It must be noted that Afghanistan has vast mineral deposits worth billions of dollars. These mineral resources may attract considerable attention of foreign investors, and the investment of them in this sector can lead to hope for the country’s economy. It should also be considered that there is a need to invest in the security of the country too.  If the Interior Ministry can prepare an integrated security force and properly equip and train them to be able to work independently, one can be hopeful about the future and finally attracting foreign investors to Afghanistan.

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