Kabul, January 2016. Every Afghan wishing to enter police training has to undergo a number of tests to ensure he/she is fit for the service. All police trainees and civilian personnel of the Ministry of Interior (MoI) are tested that they are clear from drugs and do not have criminal background or political affiliations that could compromise their impartiality as the MoI official. After successfully passing the tests, the candidates receive a Transparency/Security Clearance Card. This process is done through the Police Security Services Unit, led by Colonel Ghafoor Wardak, within the MoI’s General Directorate of Police Intelligence Department.
Colonel Wardak stresses that a person must be fit to work and clear of charges to be employed by the MoI. Furthermore, a person’s property is registered before joining the MoI to increase transparency and to ensure that the officials do not misuse their position to steal or seize properties.
Despite of the pre-employment checks, problems can occur later on. “Unfortunately, there are approximately 8,700 police officers who are addicted to drugs. The good thing is that these individuals are sent to rehabilitation and if they manage to overcome the addiction, they can continue on their jobs. If not, their police service card will be taken away and they are sent home for further treatment.” Drug addiction is a serious problem in Afghanistan, not only within the police forces. Whilst treatment for addiction has been available for the employees of the Afghan National Police (ANP) also previously, nearly 400 people living in the streets of Kabul have been sent for treatment following President Ashraf Ghani’s recent order to provide rehabilitation to drug addicts.
Police integrity, honesty and eradicating corruption are important issues for Colonel Wardak who gained his Master’s degree from the former Soviet Union and is currently doing a doctorate in a Russian university via distance learning. During his 36 years career as a police officer Colonel Wardak served as the Director of Fight against Economic Crimes and Offenses in Kabul. In that position, he detected a tax evasion of nearly 1.2 million USD related to a contract between an Afghan businessman and American company. Colonel Wardak underlines the importance of the police to fight against corruption across Afghanistan.
According to Colonel Wardak, there are many honest people working for the MoI and ANP. The main challenge is a lack of education; many positions are held by people who do not have qualifications for the post. “Recruitment must be merit-based and nobody should misuse his/her power to appoint unqualified relatives. At the same time we should remember that although the police still has to fight against terrorism, it should be able to concentrate on its real duty, which is enforcing the law. If we appoint military officials in police posts, there is not much hope for a change”, says Colonel Wardak.