Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Taliban aiming to create ‘grand army’ for Afghanistan



Taliban aiming to create ‘grand army’ for Afghanistan

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Taliban fighters take part in a military street parade in Maymana, the capital of Faryab province, on January 16. AFP

Taliban aiming to create ‘grand army’ for Afghanistan

The Taliban are creating a “grand army” for Afghanistan that will include officers and troops who served the old regime, the official tasked with overseeing the military’s transformation said on February 21.

Latifullah Hakimi, head of the Taliban’s Ranks Clearance Commission, also told a news conference they had repaired half the 81 helicopters and planes supposedly rendered unserviceable by US-led forces during last year’s chaotic withdrawal.

He said Taliban forces took control of more than 300,000 light arms, 26,000 heavy weapons and around 61,000 military vehicles during their lightning takeover of the country.

Afghanistan’s armed forces disintegrated last summer in the face of a Taliban onslaught ahead of the August 31 US-led force withdrawal – often abandoning their bases and leaving behind all their weapons and vehicles.

The Taliban have promised a general amnesty for everyone linked to the old regime, but almost all senior government and military officials were among the more than 120,000 people who evacuated by air in the final days.

Many of the rank and file remained, however, melting back into civilian life and keeping a low profile for fear of reprisals.

The UN said in January more than 100 people linked to the old armed forces have been killed since August.

Hakimi insisted, however, that the Taliban amnesty had worked well.

“If it hadn’t been issued, we would have witnessed a very bad situation,” he said.

“The suicide bombers who were chasing a person to target him, are now the same suicide bombers protecting him,” he added.

There has been little evidence the Taliban have absorbed former troops into their ranks, but over the weekend they named two senior ex-Afghan National Army officers to top posts in the defence ministry.

Both are specialist surgeons attached to the country’s main military hospital.

“Our work on the formation of an army is going on,” Hakimi said.

“Professionals including pilots and engineers, service persons, logistical and administrative staff [from the previous regime] are in their places in the security sector.”

Hakimi said they would form “a grand army . . . according to the country’s needs and the national interests”, although he did not specify a size.

He said the army would only be one that the country could afford.

Afghanistan is, however, effectively bankrupt, with the country’s $7 billion in overseas assets seized by the US.

Washington said half will be reserved for a fund to compensate victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and half gradually released as part of a carefully monitored humanitarian aid fund.

Hakimi told the news conference the Taliban had purged nearly 4,500 “unwanted people” from its ranks – mostly new recruits who joined in the aftermath of their takeover and were blamed for a spate of crime.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro