“Ghani came to power with an anti-warlord narrative and plan for disarming the people. Now his government is arming people,” said Hafiz Mansour, a legislator from the opposition Jamiat-i-Islami party that once led the anti-Taliban fight. “The government should show leadership and manage guns in a useful way. These forces should not become lawbreakers.”
But some government advisers said that many onetime militia bosses have now become invested in the country’s stability and economic success, and that like other Afghans who have experienced the fruits of democracy since the Taliban regime fell in 2001, they don’t want to see it collapse or be replaced by repressive religious rule again.
“Everyone has a stake in the system now,” said one senior government security adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak freely. “Even our strongest critics have enjoyed the freedoms that came with civilian rule. Nobody wants things to go backwards. Our forces can’t be in every village, and we are counting on the people to help. They are not trying to grab power, they are defending the system.”