Story by Collene Lewis
Eighty percent of the Afghani police force is illiterate.
That’s how Daoud Yaqub described a key problem with the police force — one of the five pillars of Afghanistan’s security sector. These pillars include creating an Afghani army, reconstructing the police force, producing a working judiciary, combating illicit narcotics and demobilizing the Afghani militias.
Yaqub, the former foreign policy aide to Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai, spoke Oct. 16 in North Classroom 3004. Co-sponsored by several Auraria organizations, the lecture offered insight on Afghanistan and U.S. foreign relations.
“Eight of 10 recruits for the police force could not read or write a police report,” Yaqub said. “They could not read the serial number on their weapons or the numbers on a license plate.”
Yaqub attributes the illiteracy rate to training programs for police officers being too short — eight weeks. These “train and equip” programs have been overly focused on improving shooting skills and proper use and maintenance of weapons, Yaqub said.
“The focus of the training mission for the police had been primarily to provide skills in combating the insurgency, not necessarily in establishing a police force focused on law and order,” Yaqub said.
Because of limited emphasis on law and order, there is “uneven development between the pillars,” Yaqub said that while the police force pillar is strengthening, the judicial pillar is lacking. The result is that arrests are made, but the prosecution isn’t sufficient to cover the number of arrests.
As part of the NATO training mission in Afghanistan, the U.S. has contributed $3.3 billion to reconstructing Afghanistan’s security, particularly toward the army, according to the government accountability office website. The site states that these programs could cost up to $7.2 billion to complete and $600 million annually to maintain.
Some changes are in place to raise the education of Afghanistan’s police force. Yaqub said the NATO training mission in Afghanistan hired 3,000 full time Afghani teachers to advance logistic, maintenance and medical systems and develop the police’s literacy skills.
But the game changer for Afghanistan is access to education for the general population, Yaqub said. Thousands of Afghani students graduate from higher learning instituions every year. Yaqub said that as the graduates get jobs in the Afghan bureaucracy, including in the police force, education moves with them.
Armed with education, Yaqub said this college-aged generation of Afghan citizens can overcome the legacies of conflict and mistrust in Afghanistan’s recent history.
“If nothing else, the post 9/11 intervention in Afghanistan has provided the space for this positive trend to occur,” Yaqub said.