With international partners growing impatient, Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced at a conference of high-level defence officials on Sunday that he is considering the introduction of conscription. Karzai told the delegates at the Munich Security Conference that conscription may be necessary in order to meet the recently adopted international goal of creating a 300,000-strong Afghan police and military force by 2012. He also stated that a number of Afghan community leaders had encouraged him to institute the practice. The use of conscription is not unknown in Afghanistan, having been used in the country until 1992.
The push for increasing the size of the Afghan security forces is part of a multi-year plan to hand over complete responsibility for the country’s security to Afghan forces. Karzai expressed the hope that Afghan forces can take full control of security, with foreign forces serving only as backup, by the end of his five-year term in 2014.
Karzai’s evident enthusiasm for conscription stands in contrast to remarks made last week by the Afghan Defence Minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak. In conversation with reporters, Wardak indicated that the Afghan government could not employ conscription in “the current Afghan situation.” General Wardak also expressed skepticism about the utility of instituting conscription, arguing that the Afghan army has no shortage of recruits and that forcing individuals to serve is thus unnecessary.
ISAFmedia photo 091223-F-8063B-059