Nangarhar residents confident Afghan forces can hold security gains

By Khalid Zerai

Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) have taken over a military base and the security of Spin Ghar and Haska Mina districts of Nangarhar Province following the withdrawal of international forces in May 2020. [Khalid Zerai]

NANGARHAR -- Four months after taking over coalition bases in Nangarhar Province, Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) are proving they are capable of maintaining the security gains achieved after the defeat of the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), local officials and residents say.

Afghan officials declared the defeat of ISIS's Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) last November.

Coalition forces withdrew from the Alta Band area of Spin Ghar District toward the end of the month of Ramadan, leaving the Afghan National Army (ANA) in their place.

"We have been deployed here for the past three months," said 1st Lt. Hashmatullah, the commanding officer of a platoon deployed in the area, who disclosed only his first name.


Members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) are seen August 26 at the military base in Spin Ghar District that coalition forces departed in May. [Khalid Zerai]

"ISIS used to operate here but not anymore," he said.

With the defeat of ISIS-K and the withdrawal of NATO forces, the ANDSF has taken over maintaining security of these areas, he said.

"We ask our people to have confidence in their security forces," Hashmatullah said.

The ANA has both heavy and light arms and can target enemies across the mountain range, he said. "We will suppress any armed group that tries to operate here."

"We have come here now and are committed to maintaining the security of residents and of the areas," said Zabiullah Nooristani, a soldier at the Alta Band base.

Security improves after defeat of ISIS

Shafiqullah Shinwari, a resident of the Momand Dara area of Achin District, said he feels safer and more secure than before.

"I moved my family back to my house four months ago," he said. "Now security is better."

"ISIS was here in the past, and we suffered greatly," he said. "ISIS beheaded our relatives. It committed crimes that I can't even talk about; I can't stop my tears."

"Now that our security forces are stationed here, we are safe and live our life without any worries," Shinwari said.

Rafiq Jan, a resident of the Gorgora area of Haska Mina District, moved with his family to Jalalabad after ISIS destroyed their house three years ago.

"I want to move my family back to my village," he said. "It is secured now. ISIS is eliminated and our National Army and border forces are based there."

"We will move back with total confidence and rebuild our houses," Jan said.

Since Afghan officials declared the defeat of ISIS-K, security has improved in Shinwari District, said Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the Nangarhar Provincial Council.

With the ANDSF in place "security has completely improved and civilians live in safety", he said.

"I assure residents that security is now good there and that your brave security forces will stand against any enemy," said Brig. Gen. Mohammad Karim Niazi, commander of the ANA's 4th Brigade in Nangarhar.

"We are armed with light and heavy weapons, ready to face any enemy," he said. "We will sacrifice until the last drop of our blood to defend our people and this land."

"The public should not worry; in fact it should be confident that we will destroy its enemies," he said.

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Over the past 20 years, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces have been fighting against Taliban, but they could not destroy them. Taliban are getting stronger day by day. Taliban may get stronger next year compared to this year. I don't know what the reason is. With millions of dollars being spent on Afghan forces, Taliban still kill these forces daily. The number of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces is more than 300,000, but the number of Taliban fighters is 30,000. Still Taliban are victorious on the battleground. The Afghan government must respond to the people why the government cannot succeed against 30,000 Taliban forces.


Afghan security forces really have had a lot of achievements on the battlefield, especially against ISIS, but they have failed to prevent the explosions and terrorist attacks of ISIS. They are very strong on the battlefield and ISIS cannot confront the Afghan forces, but the intelligence agencies of these forces are very weak. The Afghan government constantly tried to strengthen the Afghan forces, but it was unable to recruit experienced and competent people in the intelligence agencies. Intelligence is considered a nucleus for a country, especially a country which is engaged in war. The government should try to strengthen its intelligence agencies so that they can prevent explosions and terrorist attacks before they happen.