As the security transition is underway in Afghanistan, more responsibilities are being transferred to Afghan security forces, which may give the indication that Afghan authorities are now shouldering their responsibilities themselves, but, in fact, has in itself the great risk of the deterioration of security situation as Afghan forces are not totally ready to bear such a heavy burden and the terrorist networks under Taliban are getting strength. The seriousness of the matter is not just about the present condition of the Afghan security forces, but the prospects of the times to come are not very much encouraging as well.
Transitioning the security to the Afghan forces is really necessary and has to occur, but it will definitely have an effect when and how it is carried out. In order to make transition really successful, a close look has to be kept on the objective conditions and the decisions should be made in accordance to the demands of the time.
On Sunday, July 01, 2012, in a ceremony in Kandahar city, the command of combat missions was transferred from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghan security forces. The incident was another development in the ongoing transition period, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, when the Afghan forces are expected to assume the responsibility of the security of the entire country.
It was also motivated by the agreement signed between the ISAF and Afghan authorities regarding the transfer of the authority of the night-raids to Afghan forces. Through the night raids, ISAF was able to achieve some very important goals but at the same time they have been very much controversial. Afghan people to a certain extent, Afghan government and some of human rights organizations have been very much critical of them.
They were thought of causing civilian casualties and violating the privacy of the people and molest the common people, especially the female. Afghan people have been very much sensitive regarding the concept of "Chadar and Chardiwari" and these attacks were believed to violate it. President Karzai himself has been very much critical of these attacks and on various occasions has condemned the attacks. He even conditioned the strategic deal with US with the stoppage of night raids. ISAF has always considered night raids as one of the most effective of its tactics.
ISAF believed that "night operations remain the safest form of operations conducted to take insurgent leaders off the battlefield. In 85 percent of night operations not a single shot is fired and they cause less than one percent of civilian casualties." However, ISAF, because of immense pressure, carried out the procedure to handover the responsibility of the raids to Afghan forces.
Sunday's ceremony formally decided that Afghan forces, afterwards, would plan and execute security operations in the south instead of ISAF. Gen. Abdul Hameed, the commander for the 205th Atal Military Corps, after the ceremony, said in a press conference, "Earlier the command of combat missions was with ISAF forces who would guide and instruct Afghan forces on what kind of military techniques be used during operations. Now that responsibility rests with Afghans… Foreign troops would continue to play a supportive role during operations."
There were expectations from the participants of the ceremony that the Afghan forces would continue the responsibility appropriately, but the facts on the ground suggest that there are some real concerns. The skills, experience and the equipments owned by Afghan forces clearly fall short of what is owned by ISAF. A tremendous amount of work has to be carried out in that regard.
Gen. Abdul Hameed also expected that the issues that were raised during the night-raids would be minimized to a great extent after the transfer of authority. He, in this regard, mentioned, "Night operations will be carried out for high value targets only.
Such operations will be planned and executed by special Afghan forces… Afghan forces would conduct operations in line with Afghan traditions and respect the sanctity of their homes." Though Afghan and ISAF authorities can celebrate on the occasion but the important thing, at this instance, is how effective the night raids conducted by Afghan forces would be and what would be the response of Afghan people in this regard.
Most importantly, can Afghan forces carryout night raids once they are not allowed by the President of the country, as he has always been against the night-raids? What will be the response of ISAF if, in the greater interest of Afghan people and by command of the President of the country, the Afghan security forces do not carry out the raids at all? Or does ISAF really care now?
It should also be noted that this decision comes at a very important juncture within the afghan history. The concerns regarding the future of the peace process and transition period in Afghanistan have been increasing with each passing day.
There are meager expectations that there will be some sort of reconciliation between the government and Taliban, which would pave the way for better socio-political conditions in the country; and that the Afghan security forces and Afghan government would be able to shoulder the responsibilities of governance and the security arrangements in the country after the withdrawal of the US and other foreign troops. But, these all expectations fail to generate any vivid vista, and are rather marked with evident uncertainty.
The reconciliation process with Taliban is yet to bear fruits; In fact, it has not been started yet truly. Taliban do not seem ready for anything else other than complete authority through aggression. The Afghan government is yet to learn a lot as far as appropriate governance and political institutionalization are concerned.
The democratic values are yet to be nurtured to a great extent. The President office has failed to deal with the parliament and political opposition appropriately and the conflicts and clashes are dominating the relations and interactions of the organs of the state and state institutions, which must, for better development of the country function in proper co-operation and co-ordination with one another.
Moreover, the Security concerns are also real and have to be pondered upon with serious considerations. The incapacity of Afghan forces to deal with the security risks is as clear as crystal and at this critical juncture transferring important security responsibilities to them is not something one can be completely confident about.