Afghans reject US bid to train police

US plan to continue its local police training bid in Afghanistan even after the pullout of its troops there has been rejected by top Afghan officials, highlighting persisting disputes over future role of American forces in the country.

Top Afghan officials insist that Obama’s recent offer to remove US troops from Afghan villages must include Special Operations forces tasked with training the so-called Afghan Local Police (ALP), despite assumption by American officials that police trainers would be exempt from the pledged military force drawdown, The Washington Post reports on Tuesday.

While the US military regards the ALP training mission as “critical to security throughout Afghanistan, the effort has been opposed by top Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, who argues that it helps create lawless armed militias, undermining the authority of the central government’s security forces.

The dispute, the report says, “Underscores just how difficult negotiations over a long-term security partnership could be during the next year.”

The report adds that while US officials say the local police training prevents assaults by militant groups, President Karzai “insists that it invites attacks.”

According to the daily, nearly 4,500 US Special Operations forces are tasked with training the ALP, a force of over 18,000 villagers “who are armed, paid and taught to defend their communities against encroaching insurgents.”

The report further reiterates that although Karzai initially approved the formation of the ALP under pressure from US military commanders, he has persistently objected to the presence of US-led forces in Afghan villages, expressing skepticism of their ability to protect Afghan civilians and describing them as “a source of instability and tension.”

Meanwhile, the daily quotes Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi as stating in a Monday interview that the Afghan president has met with a number of civilians in recent months that “have accused the local police of rape, murder and theft in their villages.”

The report goes on to add that “many Western human rights organizations” verify such assessment.

“The creation of the ALP is a high-risk strategy to achieve short-term goals in which local groups are again being armed without adequate oversight or accountability,” it says, quoting a 2011 Human Rights Watch report.

American officials, however, stand by the program, describing it as a viable solution to Afghanistan’s security problems in remote villages. This is despite reports that since 2010, there have been at least three instances of ALP recruits shooting at their American trainers.