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Conscription idea seen as a non-starter.

Some political and military analysts believe that forcing the ordinary people into active service in the current situation could be counter-productive, because this may prompt many to swell Taliban ranks.<p>Addressing the annual Munich Security Conference on Sunday, President Hamid Karzai said he was considering instituting conscription to build an army big enough to provide security without international help.

Article 55 of the Afghan Constitution states defence of the country is a joint responsibility of citizens and the government. Conditions for military service are regulated by law. But Media head of Administrative Affairs Secretariat, Abdul Ghaffar Faizi Zadran, said there was no specific law governing conscription.

Professor of Law at Kabul University Dr Wadeer Sapi called the programme important but said it was unlikely to be implemented under the current circumstances. He cited strengthening the rule of law, a stable security environment, wider government writ and people's willingness as preconditions for conscription.

Sapi believed inexact population figures were another hurdle for military service. He urged the government to win hearts and minds of the people and instill a sense of patriotism and national unity into the masses before implementing such a programme.

"Given the presence of foreign troops in the country, creating such a sense among the people is impossible. If the government presses on with the plan, it would force the people either to join anti-government groups or leave the country," he remarked.

Political analyst Waheed Muzhda shared Sapi's view. Since countless Afghans were without national identity cards, how the government would call them up, he asked.

Former defence minister Shah Nawaz Tanai acknowledged conscription was in the best interests of Afghanistan but conditions were not ripe for it. He opined Afghans would demonstrate greater patriotism only if foreign forces left their country or at least a withdrawal timetable was announced.

Ordinary people also share the same view. A resident of Kabul, Haideryar said the government would help the insurgents recruit even more people if it went ahead with implementing the idea of conscription.

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Publication:Pajhwok Afghan News (Kabul, Afghanistan)
Date:Feb 10, 2010
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