Attack on Kunduz police chief sign of things to come

15 March 2011

Attack on Kunduz police chief sign of things to come

The fatal attack on Abdul Rahman Saidkhaili, chief of police in the Afghan province of Kunduz, demonstrates how the region is becoming more and more a war zone. That is the conclusion of SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel, who has asked Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to comment on the security situation in the northern province. Hundreds of Dutch soldiers will be arriving in Kunduz to provide training for the Afghan National Police. ‘The police chief was killed in the middle of the provincial capital,’ Van Bommel says. ‘I want the minister to tell us how in such circumstances our soldiers will be able to train police officers to perform civilian tasks.’

Harry van BommelVan Bommel is asking for a precise insight into the security situation, now that it has been made clear that the dangers to Dutch soldiers and their trainees also affected the police chief himself. Violence against police officers in Afghanistan is more the rule than the exception. “The Taliban now appear to be launching an offensive in Kunduz as well. That makes it even harder, in practice, to train police officers,” says Van Bommel.

There is uncertainty also over the state of the negotiations between the Netherlands and Afghanistan over the Dutch mission. At the request of the Green Left parliamentary group, which supports the mission, it has been decided to draw up a contract with the Afghans. The contract would contain provisos preventing Dutch-trained Afghan police officers from participating in military actions against the Taliban. “We’ve always said that in a war zone you can’t demand that an officer doesn’t take part in the war, but a majority in Parliament agreed to this demand,” says Van Bommel. “Meanwhile we’ve heard nothing about the negotiations with Afghanistan, despite this being a condition of Dutch participation in the mission in Kunduz. This matter continues to hang like a Sword of Damocles over the mission.”

The day after the murder of the police chief, thirty-seven people died in a suicide bomb attack on the police recruiting office. “Potential future recruits are having their noses rubbed in this,” says Van Bommel. “They’ll have to work in a war zone. The Dutch government’s ambition to give effective training there is beyond naïve. This mission cannot go ahead.”

Van Bommel drew attention to the fact that one reason given for the training mission was the relatively high level of security in Kunduz . “The government deluded us into believing that things were constantly improving in Kunduz and that training of police officers in safety would indeed be possible, but that is clearly not the case.”

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