15 Jul 2010

Karzai approves controversial local defence force

9:16 pm on 15 July 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has approved a controversial US plan for a new local defence force to help tackle the Taliban insurgency.

The formation of a Local Police Force is a sensitive issue for Afghans, who remember the militias mobilised by the Soviets during their decade-long occupation in the 1980s and their role in the civil war that followed.

Mr Karzai had long resisted pressure by Washington to create similar units in areas where the insurgency was strongest.

A statement from his office says he agreed to the idea at a meeting that included the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, General David Petraeus.