Police struggle to crackdown crime in Kabul

Even when Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, is not attacked by suicide bombers, it is often gripped by gun-toting crime syndicates that receive protection from the warlords and terrorist organizations.

The people’s concerns in society, particularly in big cities, also stem from thuggish groups who talk of force, who break the law, who have irresponsible armed militias.

Last fall, police and intelligence forces began a major push against Islamic State and Taliban cells in and around Kabul. The campaign has been credited by American and Afghan officials with reducing the number of attacks, though insurgents still manage to sneak in large amounts of explosives for truck bombs and daring raids.

Now, the police forces are focused on dismantling what they call a “pyramid of crime” in the capital and they have taken certain steps to counter them.

But this is not only terrorism threatening the live of common masses in the war-hit country. Kabul residents are also worry about increase of targeted robberies, kidnapping and street killings. The life of Afghan diplomats and their families have further been under threat comparing to other strata of the society.

Being in US, European and other developed countries, the Afghan diplomats and their families finding themselves in a complicated situation when returning back to their country. Militants sparing no efforts to disturb the life of civilians in the capital Kabul, to show the Afghan government and their international allies that they are not capable enough to provide security.

“It is really difficult to settle in a city where there is no social immunity. We do have worries about our families and the way criminal threatening our life,” an Afghan diplomat, Mustafa, who asked us to call his false name, said. He went on saying that his family was advised by the security organs to limit their movements due to suspicious activities around them.

Even as Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, has witnessed a significant reduction of suicide bombings and a sense of peace amid U.S.-Taliban talks, the city has increasingly been plagued by gun-wielding gangs and armed robbery. The city has turned into the capital of crime, where individuals and houses are robbed, officials, businessmen and ordinary citizens are assassinated, and the children of rich families are kidnapped for ransom.

In March 2019, the neighbors of Murtaza Ahmadi, a money changer in Kabul’s stock market, kidnapped his 6-year-old daughter, Mahsa. Later when the police identified the kidnappers, they killed Mahsa and threw her body in the garbage.

“We have arrested many criminals,” said Fardaws Faramarz, spokesperson for the Kabul police chief. “The police arrested 10 suspects related to the killing of a family and also arrested two suspects in the killing of Mina Mangal,” a former journalist who was assassinated on her way to her office in the Kart-e-Naw neighborhood. Faramarz emphasized that police operations targeting criminals have been significant.

Afghanistan’s police have been bloodied by decades of insurgencies. Amid a raging war, the national police were established, trained, and deployed to fight on the front line against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and now the Islamic State — not to fight criminals in the streets.

“The police’s duty is law enforcement [in cities], not fighting insurgents,” said political expert Raz Mohmmad. “The police have been turned into a fighting force against insurgents, which resulted in [their] having the highest casualties among Afghan security forces.”

Reform within the Ministry of Interior Affairs and police forces includes fighting endemic corruption. President Ghani once called the Ministry of Interior Affairs the heart of corruption.

In private conversations, officials admitted that many generals and police commanders did not seek to receive their monthly salary from the government because they had received too much money in bribes during that month serving on the police force.

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