Illegal arms: A forgotten, major challenge

Monday, 10 July 2017 03:22 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 178 times

Besides its other programs, two flagship disarmament programs spearheaded by the United States in Afghanistan -- the Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) and Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) – also ended up in failure. Years of its completion, irresponsible armed men and weapons owned by elements affiliated with some political parties have remained a great threat. In addition to anti-government elements, the irresponsible or gunmen associated with groups that call themselves as political parties continue to pose a great threat to the government. The existence of illegal weapons has led to various challenges, which if not tackled, can become a bigger threats as Taliban and Daesh. 

 

Armed men connected with some political groups mostly create troubles for ordinary Afghans, and the level of such trouble-making is high in the country’s north as compared to other parts. Recently, armed men loyal to Jamiat Islami Afghanistan (JIA) and Hizb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) parties engaged in heavy clashes in northern Takhar province. The skirmishes have reportedly claimed 22 lives so far, with some reports of maltreatment of women and children by the armed men. 

The main culprit of this and other similar clashes is the existence of illegal weapons with individuals associated with some political parties. The weakness of government and the failure of disarmament programs have allowed some former Mujahedin commanders to keep weapons under the pretext of affiliation with those political parties, and use them as they wish. The weak rule of law has given the chance to these individuals to deal with any issue and person with a barrel of a gun. 

The presence of illegal arms with political parties and irresponsible groups is serious concern to which keen attention should be paid by the government and the international community. Learning a lesson from the failed experience of the past, the government should, through an organized and transparent system, disarm all gunmen loyal to political parties holding a big share of power in the government, or possess illegal weapons, because the illegal armed men or elements loyal to some political parties have challenged the government rule as much as the Taliban have weakened the government. Moreover, the government should strictly prevent Afghan forces from using their weapons and other equipment to protect the interests of political parties.