Local officials in Nejrab district in the northeastern province of Kapisa on Tuesday said that over 400 militia members have been armed by the government over the past three months. The officials said the groups are backed by the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
Residents in the area said that the presence of these armed militias has created fear among the local people and their presence has not helped stabilize the security situation n the district.
According to the local officials in Nejrab, more groups are being armed in different parts of the province and three local commanders have been assigned to lead these forces. According to officials, there are an estimated 750 fighters across the province.
“They have three groups, one of the commanders is Gul Haidar who has 250 people under his command, another commander is named Shetab, and another is Ghubar; it means they have three commanders,” said Abdul Qudous Mujaddedi, district governor of Nejrab.
Residents also said that some of the commanders have close ties with members of parliament.
“The militia looks like the law of the jungle, this has created the law of the jungle, it appears that you live in a country where there is no law,” said Hedayatullah Ayyar, a tribal elder in Nejrab.
“If we are trying to bring peace, then what is the meaning of distributing arms? Peace will not come with gun, peace comes with pen and debates,” said Enayatullah, a resident in Nejrab.
“Perhaps Afghanistan’s allies will reduce their focus on the security forces. In that scenario, a militia could be used in the war,” said Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of the NDS.
On Sunday, in an interview with TOLOnews, Amrullah Saleh, the first vice president of Afghanistan, rejected rumors about building militia forces within the structure of the government’s security charter plan.
He rejected reports that he is leading an effort to form a pro-government militia by arming different groups in various parts of the country.
"There is no plan to distribute arms” in any part of the country, Saleh said, adding that if there were, he would not keep it a secret.
This comes a day after lawmakers in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament) accused the government of trying to arm at least 30,000 individuals under the “security charter” plan in various provinces, saying such a move will not help the security situation in the country.
The MPs called for the support of Afghan forces and said forming a militia is not in the best interest of Afghanistan.
“Militia-making is underway under the pretext of the security charter. We all know the price that Afghans are paying today is due to the militia-making in the past,” said Zalmay Noori, an MP.
The security charter plan was announced by the government in July to boost the security of cities in particular, but Kabul residents have said they have not seen a tangible change in the city’s security.
The NDS has so far not commented on the reports.