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Default Afghan Police Chief, Long a Taliban Target, Faces a New Emotion: Fear - 05-30-2015, 05:02 PM

Afghan Police Chief, Long a Taliban Target, Faces a New Emotion: Fear

By MUJIB MASHALMAY 30, 2015

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — He says he has lost count of the number of times the Taliban have tried to kill him.
Gen. Abdul Raziq, 37, the police chief of Kandahar Province, has been many things since he began collecting power and enemies after the Taliban’s ouster in 2001: young border policeman on the rise; doted-on protégé of American officers; scorched-earth fighter of the insurgency; trusted lieutenant of the former Afghan president; wealthy strongman who evokes fear in militants and civilians alike.
Now, after all that, the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan has become something he is unaccustomed to: apprehensive and worried.
In the shifting landscape of Afghan politics, General Raziq believes that his main accomplishment — turning Kandahar into a relatively peaceful island in the midst of Taliban territory — is not enough to protect him anymore.
Reports have emerged that President Ashraf Ghani, who has vowed to dismantle regional fiefs, might appoint someone to replace him as police chief. Some Western and Afghan officials believe that General Raziq, who has repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses and drug trafficking, is a liability for Mr. Ghani as the president tries to improve the country’s image.
Aides close to Mr. Ghani said that no final decisions had been made, and they would not speak directly about General Raziq’s position. “The president thinks systems, not individuals,” said Hamdullah Mohib, Mr. Ghani’s chief of programs. “Police reforms are underway. Comparative experiences, including that of the United States, show that this requires sustained efforts and citizens’ participation.”
In an interview at his fortified compound in Kandahar city this month, General Raziq was aware that discussions about his future were occurring in Kabul, though he said Mr. Ghani had not spoken to him about replacing him. He suggested that the process might not be easy for the president.
“This is my homeland — it wasn’t a handout; it wasn’t a gift,” General Raziq said. “Any decision made on this land, we will have a say, and our people must be consulted.”
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But his concerns about his future go beyond the political. He has long been a favored target of Taliban attackers, surviving many attacks over the years, but now he claims that the insurgents have an ally in their campaign to kill him: the Afghan government’s High Peace Council.
In the interview, General Raziq insisted that some factions within the council, a body tasked with approaching the Taliban for negotiations, were offering him and other prominent commanders up to the insurgents as an incentive to bring them to talks.
“They are saying, ‘We will give you Raziq’s head,’ ” he said. “I have recordings of voices.”
In a country awash in conspiracy theories, his claims will probably be hard to prove. He offered no evidence and would not name those he said were plotting against him. Afghan officials, while recognizing that General Raziq has long been on the Taliban’s hit list, flatly rejected his accusation.

“The job of the High Peace Council is to stop the bloodshed, not add to it,” said one senior official involved in the peace process, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “This is a struggle: Those who are effective on the battlefield or in trying to bring peace become targets.”
What seems to have heightened General Raziq’s fear for his life is the mysterious killing of Gen. Matiullah Khan, a fellow police chief from neighboring Oruzgan Province. General Khan’s dramatic rise mirrored General Raziq’s, with both gaining enormous wealth along with the fierce enmity of the Taliban.
The government said General Khan was walking in a neighborhood of old Kabul late in March when a suicide bomber wearing a burqa attacked him. But family members say General Khan was lured out of his hotel in downtown Kabul by a phone call and picked up in a vehicle. His body, identified the next morning, was intact except for a bullet wound — or two, according to varying sources — in or near his shoulders and some scratches to his legs.
“What the police is saying about the suicide bombing is 100 percent not correct,” said Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, a Parliament member from Kandahar who said he was one of the first visitors to see General Khan’s body and who helped wash him before his burial. “He had one small bullet hole on the left side of his neck, toward the back, and one bullet hole on his right shoulder, also from behind.”
General Raziq said that he and General Khan were on a long list of commanders offered up to the Taliban, including, among others, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, a former commander; Atta Muhammad Noor, the powerful and vocal governor of Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan; and Asadullah Khalid, a former intelligence chief who barely survived a suicide blast.
He added that government officials were fooling themselves if they thought dealing with the Taliban could lead to peace.
“If my death translates to peace, I have no problem with it,” General Raziq said. “What I fear is it won’t lead to peace. It is an illusion for the Taliban to sit down for talks. They have no control on that.
“Their remote control is with someone else,” he said, referring to elements within the Pakistani military long accused of supporting the Taliban as a proxy force.
In three years as Kandahar police chief, General Raziq has managed to significantly reduce the number of Taliban attacks in the province, bringing relative calm to a crucial regional hub that had long experienced constant attacks. All the while, he consolidated his own power, becoming the most dominant figure in the south after a wave of assassinations depleted the region of its top political and military figures.
But his rise has been accompanied by serious accusations of human rights abuses. He has been accused of killing his personal enemies under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Monitoring groups have also repeatedly singled out the forces under him for allegations of torture and disappearances.
General Raziq has not been shy in boasting about the Taliban body count he has amassed. During an interview at his office two years ago, he picked up from his desk a sheet of paper with a tally of Taliban fatalities in fighting with his men that week: 26.
“They were killed on my orders,” General Raziq said. “My soldiers have permission to kill 26 a day or, if they can, even 2,026 a day.”
Yet these days, the determined warrior is full of contradictions. Even as he bragged about his accomplishments, he also admitted to growing anxious and weary.
General Raziq has been involved in the war since 1995, and he says he is tired of it. He claims that he has become haunted by casualty reports, and that the noise of even an innocently dropped object alarms him. The fighting, he says, has gotten to him.
“I was a young man and then thought it was a good thing,” General Raziq said as a bodyguard clutching a gun stood behind him. “But I have come to despise it. I have come to realize this can’t be done through death and blood.”
Azam Ahmed and Taimoor Shah contributed reporting.


http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/wo...fear.html?_r=0


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Last edited by Insight; 05-30-2015 at 05:06 PM.
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Default 05-31-2015, 04:09 AM

interesting read
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