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Afghanistan

Volume 450: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many trained Afghan (a) police and (b) soldiers there were in 2001; and what the figures are for the most recent year for which figures are available. (93923)

We are not aware of any figures for the number of trained police and soldiers in 2001 when no national police and army existed. Training and equipping the Afghan national army and police started effectively from scratch after the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

The most recent year for which figures are available is 2005. At 31 December 2005, the total number of trained police officers stood at 56,900. Since this time, however, the figures compiled have been baselined to reflect the number of Afghan police both trained and equipped. On 24 April 2006, this figure stood at 30,263. The figure for trained and equipped soldiers at 29 September 2006 stood at around 35,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the (a) background and (b) suitability of the (i) provincial governors and (ii) police chiefs appointed by the Government of Afghanistan outside Kabul in Afghanistan; and what assessment she has made of the impact on steps taken to (1) improve human rights and (2) reduce opium production by the international community in Afghanistan of these appointments. (95207)

The background and suitability of individuals for posts as governors and police chiefs is a matter for President Karzai and the Afghan Government. We do monitor senior appointments and should there be serious concerns about an individual's background or suitability to perform the role, we would consider raising the issue with the Afghan Government. While the appointment of suitable individuals for posts within the administration is important for strengthening good governance, human rights, the rule of law and economic growth in Afghanistan, many of the factors that influence opium poppy cultivation go well beyond the appointment of specific individuals.