Tuesday, July 13, 2004
According to a report in the Guardian, Hamid Karzai has come out as saying that the militias and warlords in Afghanistan present a greater threat than the Taliban. This comes as Karzai has defended the need to postpone elections (sound familiar to anyone?).
"The frustration that we have in this country is that progress has sometimes been stopped by private militias, life has been threatened by private militias, so it should not be tolerated," he told the New York Times. "Without disarmament, the Afghan state will have really serious difficulties."October 9th is the new election day. The real story here is that once again, the short-term benefits of arming and empowering the warlords to fight against the Taliban for the US were put ahead of any longer-term concerns for the manner in which it would play out in Afghanistan's future.
There are now estimated to be around 50,000 armed militiamen attached to warlords, despite attempts to get them to hand in their weapons before the election.
So far, only an estimated 10,000 have agreed to leave the militias and only 7,000 weapons have been handed in.
While the Taliban have been blamed for much of the recent violence, which has been in protest at the elections, there is evidence that warlords are taking advantage of the unstable situation outside Kabul.
"We tried to do it by persuasion," Mr Karzai said of attempts to disarm the militia. "The stick has to be used, definitely." He dismissed the Taliban threat as "exaggerated".