Colonel Khan’s private warlord army or Interior Ministry Highway Patrol?
There seems to be some confusion on that point.
“Defence is aware the Kandak Amniante Uruzgan commanded by Colonel Matiullah Khan works for the Afghan Ministry of Interior to provide security on key routes within Uruzgan,” an ADF spokeswoman told The Australian yesterday. “Colonel Matiullah Khan is commander of the KAU, an organisation officially recognised and funded by the MOI to provide security along the key routes in Uruzgan province.
“The KAU performs that function in co-operation with the Afghan National Police.”
For Kandahar-Tarin Kowt, the convoy is secured not by bribing the Taliban but by paying a hefty toll to the policeman in charge of the road.
Matiullah Khan is ostensibly responsible for Oruzgan’s highways and he is paid at least $US1700 ($2385) a truck to ensure each convoy arrives at its destination safely. With about 200 trucks a month heading to Tarin Kowt, it’s a profitable sideline.
He’s not the police chief of Oruzgan but he may as well be. He commands about 300 uniformed police and has a militia of at least 1700 more, mainly protecting the road from Kandahar, the artery for the entire province. When you control the road, you control a lot. Since he took over the operation, no tankers have been lost and there have been only occasional Kalashnikov rounds to deal with.
From the front gate of Camp Holland, it’s only 200m or so to Matiullah’s compound. His brother agrees to drive us to his command post in the Tarin Kowt bazaar. There is a picture of Matiullah on the windscreen. His image, in a well-pressed police uniform, has been superimposed on a lush, Switzerland-like backdrop. Once we get through rigorous security checks – which includes demonstrating that our cameras work, to prove they contain no bombs – we meet Matiullah, who is dressed in the ubiquitous shalwar kameez, a black waistcoat and black turban.
At 36, he’s quite young for a commander, but his family ties are strong. He is the nephew of former Oruzgan governor Jan Mohammed Khan and a key leader of the Popalzai tribe, led by President Hamid Karzai and his brother Ahmed Wali Karzai. (The latter is accused by White House officials of being a leading player in the booming opium trade.) Matiullah, a father of 10, says he’s vehemently opposed to drugs, which threaten to “finish off” the country’s youth.
Matiullah is guarded on the profits he is reaping from securing the convoys. “Sometimes more, sometimes less,” he says, unwilling to give a figure. Right now, it’s easy money. The Taliban is on holiday. “For the moment they have gone to Pakistan because it is cold. But now they will start regrouping and will come again.”
He says 400 to 500 of his men have been killed or wounded on the road, but keeping it open is vital for the province. And as well as making him rich, the road is making him popular.
“If he was not in Oruzgan, the Taliban would have captured the province a long time ago,” says head of the provincial shura, or council, Maulvi Hamidullah. “I have no link with him but he is a very good person for Oruzgan. The people love him and he loves the people.”
The Dutch aren’t confused.
The Kandak Amniante Urugzan or Highway Police Uruzgan, Colonel Matiullah Khan is responsible for the security of the route between Kandahar and tarine Kowt. This unit is not covered by the Provincial Governor, but directly to the police chief of the entire southern region. In addition, Matti Ullah about troops who paid private security.
Is it true that Matiullah Khan for the security of convoys for ISAF mainly militia from a tribe, the Popalzai tribe of President Karzai and Jan Mohammad Khan, commitment? Is it true that at the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) complained that the Popalzai strain this disproportionate advantage and that they have offered the lower amount for convoys to protect? If yes, what is this done?
The Kau of Matiullah Khan is indeed mainly Popolzai tribe members, but also a substantial part Popolzai non-members, as Barakzai, Achakzai and Tokhi. In a tribal society is that safety is regulated along tribal lines. The PRT is no complaints from other strains on the composition of the Kau.
Are the militia Matiullah Khan legal? They fall under Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups (DIAG) program for disarming illegal militias?
The Kau is not a militia but part of the Afghan security structure and as such included in the payroll of the Afghan Ministry of Interior.
The Kau is therefore not covered by the DIAG program. The Kau However, from a unit of the Afghan Military Forces (AMF) that the Disarmament demobilization Reintegration (DDR) program has passed, and then is transformed into Afghan Higway Police.
The Highway Police is gradually integrated into the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP). In most provinces that process is completed, in Uruzgan yet. As stated above, in the national review of the police occupation ambiguity about the status of Kau. Netherlands urges Afghan authorities to this uncertainty is cleared up soon.
Do you share the view that commitment and (indirect) payment of the troop and Matiullah Khan a negative impact on good governance and stability in the South? If not, why not?
The Kau is currently more than any other police organization, to a considerable extent to ensure the security of the route to Kandahar and the physical security of convoys on the road traveling. The (safe) passage of persons and goods to and from Uruzgan is an essence le condition for reconstruction and economic development of the province of Uruzgan.
Canada has invested millions of dollars in programs to disarm and disband the militias that roam Afghanistan’s countryside. But most illegal armed groups had only a small fraction of their arsenals confiscated, according to a recent study by Antonio Giustozzi, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He cites the example of a militia commander in Uruzgan province named Matiullah, who handed in 264 weapons as part of the disbandment program but then continued to operate his band of armed men.
The Matiullah militia is believed to have renamed itself the KAU and now plays an important role enforcing security on the highway between Kandahar city and Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan. The KAU’s pickup trucks full of armed men frequently patrol the road that passes near the planned dam project and a Canadian military base that overlooks the highway.
I thought I recognized Matiullah’s name. We’ve mentioned him before.
UPDATE: Ran up on this old comment by Tim from Panjwayi
July 12th, 2009 at 8:59 am
It was Afghan SF elements that killed Gen Matiullah. Based out of Gecko in Kandahar City. An Expat PSC eye-witness backs this up. Initially locals believed that it was US SF that were involved, then later on the truth came out the no ISAF elements were present when this occurred. Local opinion still believes the Afghan SF were acting on “orders from the Americans” however.