Statement: NOVACT highlights PMSCs impact on the current inestability in Afghanistan

Last April 5th, presidential elections were held in Afghanistan. The new government will replace the current president Hamid Karzai and must deal with issues such as the withdrawal of NATO troops and destabilization, both economically and security, of the country after thirteen years after the conflict.

The security crisis in Afghanistan has been evident these days. First, election monitors from the European Union remain isolated in a building in Kabul, unable to make its election observation mission if they do not use private security. Furthermore, there have been attacks like the one at the Independent Election Commission, the guesthouse Roots of Peace and the one at Hotel Serena 21, where nine people were killed.

From NOVACT, we  highlight the importance of paying attention to the role that Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) play in this context. During the years of conflict and stabilization, these companies have secured foreign agents and participated with international forces in the training programs of the Afghan security forces . So, PMSCs have profoundly influenced the security sector in the country and are (in)directly related to the fact that government forces cannot ensure safety, especially in areas outside the capital. Moreover, we urge to pay attention to the situation on civil society and remarkable insecurity when exercising their right to vote.

PMSCs have created complex relationships with the police, local militias and warlords. This has not only influenced local politics and economy but also has hampered the demobilization of combatants. In addition, due to the policy of hiring local staff who have participated in these companies, the current public policy to break up PMSCs, threaten to leave a number of armed unemployed population and impact the fragile political stability. The capacity of the new national entity to ensure business security in Afghanistan, the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF) , is still weak and it is uncertain whether it can, and will be willing, to provide security services during the elections.

Last November NOVACT presented a research that examines the use and activities of the Military and Private Security Companies in Afghanistan, you can download here. Basic information to understand the current context and problems in Afghanistan.

PMSCs arrived in the country to accompany the forces of the International Coalition, led by US. And have continued, in number and geography, the presence on the military stabilization. In December 2008 , contractors accounted for 69% of the staff of the US Department of Defence (DoD), the highest percentage recorded by the DD in a conflict in U.S. history. In March 2011 , the staff of the DoD related with private security was equivalent to 19% of all U.S. troops in the area.

Afganistan

© Foto: Ashraf Ghani followers shouting during electoral event in Kabul. MOHAMMAD ISMAIL (REUTERS)