I read an article published in your newspaper on August 25, 2012, written by Musa Khan Jalalzai, bearing the title, “Afghanistan’s Shrinking Army and the Clouds of Civil War”. Though I believe in the freedom of expression, I also believe that a careless and biased writing can never be considered freedom of expression. It is necessary that a person holding a pen must feel the responsibility of not being ‘misleading’. Promulgating the truth is necessary but the perverted form of truth may generate various problems and may make the people think something which may be very much distant from the truth.
The overall article is based on the concept of “criticism for the sake of criticism”. The writer, before writing the article had decided that he had to criticize Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and the policies of the government regarding the national security, without having a proper analysis on the topic. Definitely, the shortcomings must be pointed out but everything must not be considered from a narrow perspective. A broad analysis is necessary before some huge claims are made and it is also vital that true analyst must point out both the positive and negative aspects of an issue.
Keeping in mind the history of ANSF and comparing them with their achievements one can easily conclude that the positive aspects are more than the negative ones. Nothing is perfect and can never be. If ANSF has improved so much within the limited time and resources, there are great possibilities that they may do the same in the future as well. They have been developed from nothing and it has been barely a decade, which is a very short time in the life of an army or police, yet the performance has not been disappointing.
The military of Afghanistan currently has around 200,000 active soldiers, and a major portion of this number is committed in safeguarding the country and the people of Afghanistan.After the current government of Hamid Karzai took over in late 2001, there has been significant progress toward revitalization of the national military, with two official branches established. The ANA and AAF (Afghanistan Air Force) became under control of the Afghan Ministry of Defense, which forms the basic military force. By 2006, more than 60,000 former militiamen from around the country have been disarmed.
All heavy weapons from Panjshir, Balkh, Nangarhar and other places were seized by the Afghan government. In 2007, it was reported that the DDR programmes had dismantled 274 paramilitary organizations, reintegrated over 62,000 militia members into civilian life, and recovered more than 84,000 weapons, including heavy weapons. The ANA Commando Battalion was established in 2007. The Afghan National Development Strategy of 2008 explained that the aim of DIAG (Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups) was to ban all illegal armed groups in all provinces of the country. Approximately 2,000 such groups have been identified and most of them have surrendered to the Afghan government or joined the nation's military.
There are even more achievements that can be cited here to make the writer see the truth as a whole. The recent performance of National Directorate of Security (NDS), wherein they foiled two deadly attacks against the Second Vice-President KarimKhalili and the parliament, is a clear example. The timely response from NDS saved both the Vice-President and the parliament of the country, which could otherwise prove to be very much deadly. There have been many such incidents in recent times; the writer only needs to turn the pages of the newspapers and find them.
As far as the decision of parliament to dismiss Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Muhammadi is concerned, it was treated as ‘being the internal affair of Afghanistan’ by NATO and ISAF. They clearly gave their statement that their dismissal would not affect the transition and the future of security in the country.
Moreover, the statement mentioned by writer that NATO is not confident about the future of the country, especially about the time after withdrawal and the capacity of Afghan forces to shoulder the responsibility of the national security, does not seem convincing as ISAF on various occasions has clearly stated that it is confident about the transition and the future of the country after 2014. In addition, the writer does not seem to be a military analyst and not in a position to prognosticate the outcome of the withdrawal. The statement by ISAF in this regard should be considered as nearer to truth for it is by experts.
The issue of ‘green on blue attacks’ are definitely worrying. However, for most of the incidents, penetration of Taliban within Afghan security forces cannot be blamed. ISAF itself, on various occasions, has accepted that such attacks are mostly individual and have their roots in personal grievances or misunderstandings. Overstating the penetration of Taliban with security forces would not turn the truth into a lie.
Some meager issues are also raised by the writer to give a negative picture of the performance of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. He has cited the issue of defection and the literacy rate within them. However, he seems to forget the fact that defection may be because of the tough military life while illiteracy does not necessary mean that soldiers do not love their country and cannot fight for it.
ANSF is really a very important and respectable institution of Afghanistan. All the people of Afghanistan must support it morally so that they should be able to perform their responsibilities in the best possible manner, especially after the withdrawal of international troops. The people of Afghanistan have to realize the fact that they are the ones who face the difficulties and dangers directly while we sleep comfortably at our houses.
They are the ones who sacrifice their lives so as to provide us security. We have to gauge their performance as per the objective conditions. We have to see the resources they get, the difficulties they face and the nature of the war they are into. I am sure an objective analysis would make us proud of the national security forces.