Kabul will not send troops to retake town
* Hamid Karzai vows Afghan polls on time
KABUL: The Afghan government does not plan to send troops to retake control of a provincial capital overrun last week by a renegade commander, as the situation there is now calm, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.
Chaghcharan, capital of the remote central province of Ghor, was taken over on Friday by forces of commander Abdul Salaam Khan, who has been resisting a central government drive to disarm factional militias ahead of elections due in September.
Khan’s forces pushed out Ghor police chief General Zaman and the head of the government military division, General Ahmad, who appealed to the central government to send troops to help them retake the town.
But Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimy said a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai had made no decision to send troops. Azimy said some troops would eventually be sent to Ghor, but only ahead of the September elections.
Karzai told reporters on Sunday a delegation would be sent to Ghor to investigate but did not comment further on the issue.
It is the latest occasion on which his government has caved in to powerful commanders resisting its efforts to force factional militias to disarm and adds to the questions surrounding the timing of the elections. Meanwhile Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday attacks aimed at disrupting landmark elections planned for September would increase, but he vowed the ballot would be held on time.
Security remains a concern with scores more people killed in recent weeks and factional disarmament has continued to move at a snail’s pace, raising doubts as to whether September is viable.
“Those people who do not want Afghanistan to be tranquil and do not want the nation to choose its leadership and destiny, will do whatever they can to block (the elections),” Karzai told a news conference at his heavily fortified presidential palace.
“We should expect that attacks on the Afghan people, on charity organisations and on the reconstruction of Afghanistan to increase and get worse,” he said.
However, asked if he planned to delay the polls again, Karzai replied: “We want 100 percent for the elections to be held on time.”
Karzai said he would push for parliamentary and presidential polls to be held simultaneously despite concern that regional power brokers and factional commanders may be able to influence the parliamentary vote given the slow pace of disarmament. reuters