Kabul, August 2016. Two prominent themes emerged at the closure of a successful two-day conference organized by EUPOL and the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) to explore the future of civilian policing in Afghanistan: Leadership and equality in the Afghan National Police (ANP). The conference took place on the 30-31 August in the ministry’s new, modern premises.
The conference drew a huge turn-out to include high-level members of the Afghan government and its international partners: The Afghan First Lady Mrs. Rula Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, Minister of Interior Taj Mohammad Jahed and the Deputy Minister for Security General Rahman spoke at the event. As did the European Union Special Representative in Afghanistan Mr. Franz-Michael Skjold Mellbin, the Resolute Support Mission Commander General John Nicholson, and the Former Minister of Interior Affairs Professor Ali Jalali. Representatives from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), legal experts and members of the Afghan National Police were also in attendance.
A shared vision
Equality within the police force was roundly emphasized as imperative to the building an inclusive ANP at the service of both male and female citizens of Afghanistan. Female ANP officers demanded that the MoI leadership provide equal training opportunities and equal tasks for both men and women as well as a safe working environment that is free from harassment.
Exemplary leadership was singled out as fundamental to building an efficient ANP that protects human rights and upholds the rule of law. “The improvement of leadership and management holds the key to transforming the ANP into a force that lives up to its constitutional duty of providing security,” said the Afghan Minister of Interior Affairs Mr. Taj Mohammad Jahed.
Gaining public trust through fighting corruption, putting an end to both the politicization of the ANP and the abuse of resources allocated to the police as well as advocating merit-based promotions were also identified as necessary in shaping the future of the ANP.
The ANP was called on regard police work as a public service rather than a paid job. Furthermore, a clear division of labour between the military and the police – whereby the army engages in combat to ensure short-term security leaving the police to focus on long-term security – was also highlighted as essential for effective civilian policing.
Although the EUPOL Mission will end in December 2016, the European Special Representative in Afghanistan expressed commitment to continue supporting civilian policing in Afghanistan.
“I was encouraged by the fact that many of our speakers expressed the same views when talking about the way forward for the Afghan National Police: Equality for men and women in the ANP, fighting corruption and strong leadership. This means that there is a common view on what needs to be achieved,” said the EUPOL Head of Mission Ms. Pia Stjernvall.
“Strategies and policies for shaping a professional ANP are now in place. It is important to implement them as there will be no sustainable peace without a professional police force.”
Mr. Taj Mohammad Jahed thanked both EUPOL for their support to the ANP over the years and Afghanistan’s international partners who have indicated a willingness to step in and fill the void that EUPOL’s end will leave. “I am hopeful that peace will come to Afghanistan so that the police can go back to performing their traditional role rather than engage in fighting the insurgency,” he said.