KABUL -- Afghan Local Police (ALP) officers are winning plaudits nationwide for their professionalism, Said Ikram, an Afghan member of parliament, told Salaam Times.
"The ALP are doing their best in remote areas ... and helping the Afghan National Army [ANA]," he said of the force whose members all serve in their home districts and hometowns.
"The ALP are professional and well equipped," Malak Darya Khan, chairman of the Mohmandara District Council in Nangarhar Province, told Salaam Times. "Residents of Mohmandara co-operate closely with the ALP and have seen an improvement for security."
Local loyalties trump all
Local roots matter, Khan said.
"Our ALP officers are from this area," he said. "They can relate to the people. Daesh [the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL)], the Taliban and other militant groups are outsiders who don't want what is best for our community."
"During recent fighting between Afghan commandos and insurgents in Kot District, the ALP helped greatly in driving ISIL out of the district," he added.
The Taliban used to set up check-points that impeded farmers from accessing their own crops, Haji Ata Jan, an elder in Bulambi village, Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, told Salaam Times.
Now under ALP protection, the farmers "live in freedom and have a taste of life with peace", he said.
"The ALP members are our brothers and friends," Panjwai District resident Abdul Bari told Salaam Times. "We are two hearts, one body."
Residents of Sayeed Abad village, Nad-e-Ali District, Helmand Province, live in peace because of the ALP's brave efforts, Sayeed Abad resident Rohullah told Salaam Times.
"The ALP play a key role in maintaining security," Helmand police chief Gen. Aqa Noor Kentoz told Salaam Times. "They ... recognise outsiders and know the area ... Their presence alongside other security forces is vital."
Proud to serve
ALP officers are proud to serve their friends, families and neighbours.
"We fight hard against the enemies of peace in our villages," Mohmandara-based ALP officer Syed Hakim told Salaam Times. "We defend people's lives, modesty and possessions."
The villages have always defended themselves, ALP officer Esmatullah told Salaam Times, recalling how in past times in various provinces like Paktia, Paktika and Khost, the village elders would authorise local men to protect the village.
The ALP, comprised of residents of the areas they serve, is an extension of that tradition, he said.
"We are knowledgeable and well qualified," he said.