Effective security, uplift plans drawn up: Wardak governor

MAIDAN SHAHAR (Pajhwok): A comprehensive strategy has been devised to improve the security environment in the central province of Maidan Wardak -- a gateway to the capital Kabul.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Governor Hayatullah Hayat said he believed before his appointment to the slot that Wardak, given its proximity to Kabul, would be a stable province.
But 45 days after his nomination, Hayat has concluded Wardak would be one of them if there were to be insecure provinces in Afghanistan. His assessment is based on briefings he has received so far.
He concedes Daimir Dad, Jaghatu, Nirkh, Chak and Jalrez are among the volatile districts of the province. Although Behsud is a relatively calm district, there are disturbing questions about the rule of law there, he says.
While linking the wave of insecurity to a heavy presence of militants, Hayat has no idea who the fighters are aligned with. The guerrillas, who are harassing civilians, paraded a police officer naked in the main bazaar after beating him severely.
On militant activities in Wardak, the governor has presented a detailed report to the National Security Council (NSC) in the hope that steps will be taken to stabilise the province. His previous perception of the situation has changed 180 degrees.
Because of the grim situation, he convenes two weekly meetings on security, compared with only one that he would chair until recently. “Our objective is to ensure people’s safety; these meetings are a message that insecurity has escalated here.”
Without delving into details, the official says they have drawn up effective plans to enforce security in all restive areas across the province. The plans have since been shared with NSC and other relevant institutions, according to the governor, who expects a favourable response from the higher authorities.
Encourage by people’s pledge to cooperate with security organs, Hayat plans getting even closer to residents through meetings with people from all districts. This will help him to ascertain people’s views and recommendations in the context of security.
Apart from security officials, representatives from 40 state institutions will attend the meetings aimed at instant resolution of public problems. He thinks security organs in Wardak have coordination, but there are certain difficulties in maintaining public order.
He has no issue with the composition and strength of security institutions in the province, but has his reservations about their actual presence on the ground. He puts the number of security personnel in Wardak at 5,000, compared with up to 1,500 rebels operating there.
“Despite the numerical superiority of our security forces, we are still on the defensive,” the governor notes, doubting accuracy of the numbers. “We have appointed a delegation to determine whether or not these many security personnel are deployed here.”
He also refers to a shortage of heavy weapons being face by the security organs and the absence of an Afghan National Army (ANA) brigade in the central province. The four ANA battalions in Wardak are operating under the Gardez-based brigade.
In case of need, these battalions discuss their problems with their counterparts in Gardez before getting to the ANA Corps and the Ministry of Defence, the governor explains, saying it is a long-drawn-out process that hampers a timely response to emergency situations.
He demands the approval of an ANA brigade for the province, placed under Kabul instead of Gardez. With the implementation of his plans, he is confident of enforcing public security.
In the same breath, he insists, the militants are no longer capable of face-to-face combat with the security forces. A reserve force will swing into action under the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in the province shortly, Hayat promises, hoping the situation will improve considerably.
In the area of reconstruction, the provincial administration is focused on completing unfinished projects like several roads and Chak dam and executing on priority the schemes identified by officials and residents of each district.
“Another important issue that is under serious consideration concerns schools in the province, which was once deprived of academic programmes. Now some schools are teaching students how to fire bullets, something which is unacceptable.
“My first and foremost priority is to purge such schools of insurgent influence and thereby pave the ground for a wholesome teaching-learning process in Maidan Wardak,” Hayat concludes, asking the masses to keep an eye on governmental affairs and help improve education as well as security.

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