Concessions on Afghan police mission, dissidents more positive

The government has made a number of concessions to soothe fears about its planned police training mission to Afghanistan.

During a parliamentary debate on Wednesday it became clear that a majority of MPs opposed the mission in its present form, forcing ministers to make a speedy rethink.
Ministers have now pledged to get guarantees from the Afghan authorities that Dutch police trainers will not have any military role. They have also agreed that the Netherlands, not the US, will decide if four Dutch fighter jets which will accompany the mission should be called into action or not.
Ministers have also agreed to extend the training period from six to 18 weeks, to make sure trainers have safe bunkers to sleep in and to focus on civilian matters. Efforts will also be made to weed out corruption.
It is still not clear if the D66 Liberals, left wing greens GroenLinks and ChristenUnie will support the plan. The minority cabinet needs other party agreement because its alliance partner, the anti-Islam PVV, opposes the mission.
GroenLinks leader Jolande Sap told reporters earlier on Thursday she was convinced that her party could support the mission, as long as it is civilian-based and focuses on rebuilding Afghanistan.
‘Our ambition has always been to contribute in a good way to human rights and the civilians of Afghanistan,’ she said.
Military role
Meanwhile, a Kunduz police chief and a spokesman for the Afghan home affairs ministry say in the Volkskrant that it is impossible to rule out civilian police trainers becoming involved in military action.
‘If you are attacked, you have to defend yourself. Afghanistan is not a safe country,’ the ministry spokesman said.
Last year, 1,261 Afghan police officers were killed, mostly in fights with rebels, the spokesman said.

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