Pakistan, Corruption Affect South, West Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2012 — Pak­istani safe havens add to the dif­fi­cul­ty in Afghanistan’s Hel­mand province, and cor­rup­tion also retards progress, the for­mer com­man­der of NATO forces in the region said here today.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, com­man­der of the 2nd Marine Divi­sion and the for­mer com­man­der of Region­al Com­mand-South West, told the Defense Writ­ers’ Group that dur­ing his year-long tour in com­mand of the region the prob­lem of Pak­istan frus­trat­ed him.

His area of oper­a­tions in Afghanistan — the provinces of Hel­mand and Nim­ruz and Region­al Com­mand-South cen­tered around Kan­da­har — are par­tic­u­lar­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to inter­fer­ence com­ing from Pak­istan.

Pak­istan rep­re­sents a safe haven for ter­ror groups work­ing inside Afghanistan. The two places inside Pak­istan that were prob­lem­at­ic are Chaman — a Pak­istani city near Spin Bolduk — and Bahram Chah. Chaman is a major port of entry on the road to Kan­da­har. It is free-flow­ing trade hub and the ene­my has built up huge caches of bomb-mak­ing mate­r­i­al and Tal­iban sup­plies.

Bahram Chah is a hub where drugs go out of the coun­try and lethal aid is com­ing in, Too­nan said. “We saw it. We inter­dict­ed a lot,” he said.

His Marines and their Afghan allies inter­dict­ed about $78 mil­lion in drugs. “But it’s a pit­tance,” he said. “I’m told by DEA that it’s less than 12 per­cent of the opi­um that’s mov­ing across the bor­der.”

The Pak­istani Army’s 12th Corps was posi­tioned across the bor­der, he said. In his year-long tour, Toolan said he did­n’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sit down with 12th Corps com­man­ders and say, “ ‘Here’s what we’re doing on our side of the bor­der. If you can do this on your side of the bor­der, we can real­ly take care of this prob­lem.’ ”

The prob­lem is, he said, Pak­istan has wor­ries of its own and Balochis­tan, which bor­ders Afghanistan’s Hel­mand and Nim­ruz provinces, has its own sep­a­ratist move­ment under­way.

“The Pak­istani mil­i­tary knows, “if they start doing things, they could stir up the Balochis­tan bee­hive, so they just sit there. And it’s frus­trat­ing.

Diplo­mat­ic pres­sure on Pak­istan is impor­tant, “but we don’t want to break the Pak­istani gov­ern­ment,” Toolan said.

“From my per­spec­tive as a mil­i­tary com­man­der hav­ing to deal with the prob­lem, it’s like I can’t shut the water off, I just keep mop­ping up the floor,” Toolan said. “If I could turn the water off in Pak­istan it would be a lot bet­ter.”

The biggest threat inside Afghanistan is cor­rup­tion, Toolan said. This threat, he said, con­sists of two types: par­a­sitic and preda­to­ry. Par­a­sitic cor­rup­tion, he said, is from gov­ern­ment offi­cials feath­er­ing their own nests.

The gen­er­al cit­ed an Afghan sen­a­tor from his area who is “a bad influ­encer in the south of Afghanistan. He’s con­nect­ed to the drug indus­try and his influ­ence is to keep that alive.”

Toolan said the man in ques­tion active­ly works to weak­en the author­i­ty of Afghanistan’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment. “As long as the cen­tral gov­ern­ment allows peo­ple like that to oper­ate, it keeps it weak,” he said.

Preda­to­ry cor­rup­tion is some­thing mil­i­tary com­man­ders can deal with, Toolan said. This is the abuse of pow­er, he said. This is sol­diers or police who abuse their offi­cial posi­tions for prof­it.

“While I was in Hel­mand province, there were indi­ca­tions that preda­to­ry cor­rup­tion was occur­ring,” the gen­er­al said. “What we tried to do was to iden­ti­fy it quick­ly … and actu­al­ly hold peo­ple account­able.”

Dur­ing his tour in the province, Toolan said the rule of law was start­ing to take root and the provin­cial gov­er­nor and police chief also want­ed to crack down on such preda­to­ry cor­rup­tion.

There are solu­tions, but they will take time, the gen­er­al said.

“We need to work real­ly hard at strength­en­ing the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to take on the par­a­sitic cor­rup­tion, and main­tain a close watch and coop­er­a­tion with gov­ern­ment offi­cials to iden­ti­fy preda­to­ry cor­rup­tion,” Toolan said.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →