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Afghan Article Asks Why Government Tolerates Private Security Companies Print
BBC Monitoring South Asia, 2007-10-07

Text of article, "Compatriots concerned about presence of private security companies" published by state-owned Afghan newspaper Hewad on 7 October

The upper house discussed the nature of the activities of private security companies some days ago and the Internal Affairs Committee submitted the report it had prepared on private companies to the house.

According to the report, there are 81 private security companies throughout the country. About thirty of them with 13,000 armed personnel have been registered at the Interior Ministry and the rest are carrying out their activities without any responsibility and without any legal licence and do not want to get registered at the ministry.

The report says that, according to the Interior Ministry, most threats in the capital and provinces are posed by armed men belonging to these companies. The upper house session once again stressed that a decisive step should be taken to legitimize and control these companies.

The report also states that the internal and defence affairs committees have been asked to prepare a plan to submit at the forthcoming session. We praise the internal and defence affairs committees of the upper house for holding such a session and trying to legitimize private security companies. However, in our opinion, it merits a mention that the relevant committees of the upper house gave a delayed reaction and now these private security companies are like a government within the government. They carry out their activities in a lawless manner and without holding any licence and Kabul citizens complain that workers of private security companies are involved in most robberies, kidnappings and lootings carried out in military uniform.

These companies have been established by a number of armed commanders. We heard in the Internal Affairs Committee's report that 13,000 armed men belong to about 30 private security companies alone which have been registered with the Interior Ministry. Most of them are rogue and belong to particular factions which oppose the government. Most analysts believe that lawless commanders have recruited these people to private security companies because if their activities are prevented, they will use and command these armed men to cause violence and instability in Kabul in due course and serve their own ends.

What is surprising and worrying for us is why the government has issued operating licences to private security companies, despite the presence of the national army, national police and security forces. Most of them are not prepared to get registered. Why does the Interior Ministry tolerate the presence of such security companies? We share this concern with the Internal Affairs Committee of the upper house and want to see a plan that can legitimize the activities of private security companies. The Interior Ministry should strictly control them and they should register all their ammunitions, or be shut down, so that Kabul citizens do not suffer at their hands in the future.

In our opinion, all compatriots have criticized the presence of private security companies and some people are concerned that, God forbid, these companies may destroy Kabul again and kill people if a critical situation emerges. Such a situation should be prevented. One demand from people in Kabul and other provinces is that the Interior Ministry itself should assume this responsibility from private security companies. It should ensure the safety of private and non-government offices, NGOs and companies through its trained personnel, rather than through militias and armed men who are trained and funded by known people.

Originally published by Hewad, Kabul, in Pashto 7 Oct 07.
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