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We can defy the insurgents now, say the policemen at new checkpoint

Jun 18, 2011

LOGAR, Afghanistan (June 18, 2011) The new police checkpoint at a strategic crossroads is another step for the Afghan security forces on their way to independence. From now on, the road and the bridge of Dabare are guarded by 15 Afghan policemen, who will use the new base and observation point.

Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team in Logar has handed the finished building of police checkpoint and adjacent observation point at an important crossroads in Charkh district over to the Afghan security forces a week ago. The police has already moved there and started patrolling already.

“This police checkpoint is very important for us,”said Colonel Ghulam Nabi Charkhi, deputy chief of Logar police, during the ceremonial handover of the new building. “It only takes one look at a map to see why this place at the bridge of Dabare is so strategically important. It connects the Charkh and Baraki Barak districts; the road heading south is a gateway into the dangerous district of Kherwar; and the road heading northeast leads to Puli Alam, the centre of the province,” the Colonel added.

Afghan National Police in Logar hopes that the new building, and especially the 15 policemen operating the checkpoint since this week, will help restrict the actions of anti-government forces in Charkh. Gunfire is not unusual here; Afghan as well as coalition patrols are often attacked. “If we manage to control the road, it will have great influence on the security of the whole district,” says Colonel Charkhi after describing the work of the checkpoint police.

Security situation in the Charkh district is complicated, and so the people living in the neighbourhood of the building think highly of the new checkpoint. Representatives of the local shura, the council of elders, have also attended the ceremonial handover. “They know that this will contribute to their safety,” says the chief of the new police station. Thanks to the checkpoint, security in the region will improve, which is important for the movement of goods and people. If the roads are safe, merchants will not be afraid to travel; farmers will have easier access to markets; it will help the whole region economically.

“Ours a round-the-clock duty, we don’t get to go home in the afternoon. I come from Balkh province and I can go home to my family once every six weeks. I always get ten days off; out of these, I spend four days on the road,” says Aminullah, 28, in description of the checkpoint duty. He has been serving at the Dabare bridge for several months. In the past, however, the policemen used to work and live in a mere metal container surrounded by makeshift fortification. Now they have a brick building with a stone wall around and they feel safer. “We can heat it here in winter; there is enough space for bunk beds… finally we have decent living and working conditions,” Aminullah concludes.

Colonel Charkhi also confirms that the new building and its wall mean a big change for the police: “We’ve had several military bases around Logar’s main road repaired and fortified by the Czech PRT over the past three years. The old and provisional ones were attacked more often than the new ones. It seems the insurgents are wary of the new checkpoints; they can see that these buildings are not easy to seize, so they don’t attack them that often.”

However, the reality of Afghan police forces as a whole is still complicated. Many of the policemen are illiterate, they lack training and equipment. The time when Afghan security forces will have to take over the responsibility for their own country is getting near and the opening of a new checkpoint at the Dabare bridge is just one more step towards this goal. Apart from building facilities for the police, the Czech PRT also participates in training recruits and older policemen. Czech Army instructors carry out six-week courses at the Shank military base in Logar. Several hundred Afghans have already completed the course.

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