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Afghan Interior Ministry Defends Auxiliary Security Force

Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak might have been wary of it, but Interior Minister Mohammed Hanif Atmar gave a forceful defense of the Afghan Public Protection Force — an auxiliary security force that some worry amounts to a remobilization of private militias.

“This is not a militia, not an Arbakai,” Atmar said, referring to a traditional tribal volunteer security force, at a breakfast meeting for the press with the Afghan ministerial delegation that’s in town this week to advise the Obama Af-Pak strategy review. “This is not arming people outside the formal government structure.” Instead, he vowed, the APPF would be “part of the police force, but without the mandate of the police” to perform law enforcement functions, though the APPF would wear police uniforms and guard installations likes schools, roads and public buildings. “This frees assets from the police for community policing,” Atmar said. He also claimed that the APPF would amount to “accelerating” the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of militias. Atmar’s ministry runs the program.

Atmar acknowledged that the upper house of the Afghan parliament has passed a resolution condemning the program — which is proceeding in pilot form in Wardak Province — but urged patience. Some of his countrymen “are behaving against the [counsel] of our famous proverb, ‘Don’t take your boots off before you see the water,’” Atmar said. “Don’t pass resolutions before you see the water. Don’t pass resolutions that will have no relevance whatsoever.”

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