22 July 2012 – The security responsibility of three districts of Kandahar Province – Dand, Daman and Arghandab – and Kandahar City were handed over from international forces to Afghan forces last week.
Addressing a handover ceremony held at the 205 Military Corps in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s Defense Minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, said he was “eternally grateful” to the support of the international community for Afghanistan. He stressed that all Afghans should stay united to succeed in the ongoing transition process.
Kandahar Governor Dr Toryali Wesa said the Afghan security forces are now ready to defend the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and protect the lives of the Afghans.
“If equipped with advanced weapons and other resources especially providing support in air defense, capability to carry out night raids and train experts of bomb disposal squad, I am sure that Afghan forces are fully capable of protecting the lives of Kandahar people and the whole country,” said Dr Wesa.
Among others who attended the handover ceremony were the head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Abdul Khaliq Farahi; Deputies of Interior, Public Health, Power and Energy and Finance Ministries; Members of Parliament from Kandahar; UNAMA representatives; Kandahar Provincial Council members; a US Embassy representative; the commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for the southern region; tribal elders and religious scholars (Ulemas).
The head of IDLG, Mr Abdul Khaliq Farahi, conveyed the President’s message of gratitude to the people and officials of Kandahar for taking part in the third tranche of transition process.
“The peace and stability of Kandahar is a piece of good news for all Afghanistan because of its strategic importance. We are hopeful that the local officials will try to win hearts and minds of the local population of Kandahar,” said Mr Farahi.
Kandahar is the birth place of the Taliban and is considered as an important province, both politically and strategically. It has been the scene of violence for the last 10 years and hundreds of officials, tribal elders and Ulemas among other have been assassinated. Schools have been shut down and humanitarian activities are occasionally hindered due to insecurity.
The three districts of Kandahar who security responsibility is handed over to the Afghans are considered relatively peaceful.
Later, speaking at a press conference, Defense Minister Wardak, while dismissing security fears, said the Afghan forces are now capable of maintaining their own security. He also referred to recent security incidents where 14 suicide bombers were killed by the Afghan forces without seeking any assistance from their international partners. “This shows that our forces are able to protect their people and defend their territorial integrity,” he said.
Referring to a recent conference in Tokyo where Afghanistan’s international donors pledged US$ 16 billion for the country’s socio-economic and development needs through 2015, US Embassy representative Hilda Arellano said Afghanistan’s future is bright if “our contributions reach every community, every province and every district of Afghanistan”.
“Transition is not the end, in fact it is the beginning”, she added.
The transition process was officially marked by jointly hoisting the Afghan National flag by the Afghan Defense Minister, Kandahar Governor and other officials.
By UNAMA Kandahar