As the Afghan National Security Forces expand their reach in providing security, the role of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) grows in importance.
Its role is to provide a first line of community-based security in areas where there is a minimal ANA or ANP presence. The ALP personnel are recruited from the community they work in; their ties to the area are longstanding and earn instant support from the local population.
A number of examples can be found to illustrate ALP’s effectiveness in improving security. For instance, security in the rugged terrain of Gushta district in Nangarhar is a shining example of the ALP success.
In Gushta, their impact can be felt in conversation with all the residents. Sixty-year-old Abdul Wahab says: “I am proud that our sons are here to protect us. I have seen several wars in my life and now with Almighty Allah’s blessing our dream of strong security forces has been fulfilled.”
According to tribal elder Malak Maa Jan, the establishment of the local police two years ago made an immediate difference. “The local officials and tribal elders made sure to select honest and intelligent young men from the district: people have seen the difference the ALP has made in security; everyone supports their efforts.”
As Haqmal, a shopkeeper in the main bazaar explains, the community policing system is simple yet effective. “This is a rural area, we all know each other. When we see suspicious activities or people, we go to the nearest ALP post or call the villager or relative working in the ALP immediately.”
The police chief of Gushta district, Colonel Abdul Mateen, depends on the ALP to strengthen ties with the community. “It is a community effort with the ALP, it is not just one police officer but the whole village that stands behind them. Last year, when the ALP post got attacked, local residents came to help them fight off the insurgents.”
Rafiqullah of Warsak village confirmed the official assessment of Colonel Mateen. “Security is not just the duty of security forces but everyone needs to help protect the innocent. Allah says that protecting one person is like protecting the whole world; we follow this path in Gushta. The enemies of peace try to spread terror and halt development, but we stand next to the ALP to protect the future of our children.”
Jahanzeb, an ALP member in Gushta is proud that his fellow residents depend on him and his colleagues for their security. “Gushta is a frontier district and our presence blocks insurgents from trying to cross the border. It is our pleasure to provide security not only for our families but for all the people of Gushta.”
In Helmand province, Marja district was once known as safe haven for insurgents. Not anymore! The area has become a symbol of improved security in the whole province. After the insurgents were driven out of the area by the Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF a couple of years ago, an ALP force was established to maintain the security.
“We appreciate the ALP for keeping the peace in Marja. They have become the symbol of increasing security in Helmand,” said Ali Shah Mazlomyar, Director of Information and Culture. He was addressing a certificate distribution ceremony which was held in praise of the ALP in Marja.
According to District Governor Habibullah Shamalani, “The members of the ALP are professionally trained. The key to the security in Marja is the cooperation between the security forces and the people.”
Paktika is another province where ALP have done a tremendous job. According to provincial security officials, security incidents have decreased by up to 70 per cent in some areas. One of the main reasons for this is the effectiveness of Afghan Local Police, they said.
“Currently there are ALP in the provincial capital of Sharana and in eight other districts of Paktika,” said the provincial police chief, Brig Gen Dawlat Khan Zadran. “The improvement in security in these areas is a direct result of the ALP.”
Azizullah Karwan, the ALP commander in Paktika says he currently commands approximately 2,000 local police and hopes that the Ministry of Interior will approve the fielding of more units. The results speak for themselves.