Kabul – July 5, 2021
Reporter: Bilal Khudadad
Concurrent to the escalation of violence around the country, and as districts and security check posts change hands between the security forces and the Taliban, more than 200 soldiers of the Kabul’s gates protection battalion have not been paid for months.
A number of these soldiers, who work around the clock in the checkpoints to protect and defend the gates of Kabul city, in an interview with Payk reporter claimed that most of them have not been paid for six to 11 months.
The minimum monthly salary of a soldier of the Afghanistan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) is reported to be 12,000 Afghanis, which is being funded by the United States of America with around 5.5 billion USD annually.
Mahfooz, one of the soldiers, told the Payk reporter that he has not been paid for the past six months, despite all the economic challenges, providing for the family and carrying out round the clock duties while facing the enemy.
Muhammad Saboor, another soldier who has also not been paid for 10 months, speaking on behalf of dozens of soldiers stationed at the gates of Kabul city, says:
“Even though we have repeatedly appealed to senior officials, but it has fallen on deaf ears.”
Hakimullah, a resident of Badakhshan province who claims to have left his job in Kabul’s gates protection battalion and who has only received one month’s salary during this period, says:
“I would sacrifice myself for the country, it is fine. But when my children sleep hungry with an empty stomach, I can’t bear it. Can you serve as a soldier without pay?”
The question which he says was never answered and he had to leave his job. However, the Payk reporter brought up this question with Captain Eimal of Kabul’s gates protection battalion, he confirmed what the soldiers have been claiming and said:
“Recently, the Acting Minister of Interior Affairs directed us and we executed his orders.”
According to him, the salary table of more than 200 soldiers of this battalion from May 2020 to April 2021 have been prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI). However, in response to why the new measure has not been implemented so far? Maher Safi, chief of staff of the battalion, said that the reason for these soldiers not getting paid was a technical issue in the paper-based and digital systems, saying that this problem should be taken up with the Directorate of Finance of the ministry. According to Mr. Safi, this issue has been shared with MoI’s Directorate of Finance many times, which sites lack of adequate budget as a reason for the issue.
However, Tariq Arian, the spokesperson for the MoI, says the soldiers delayed salary payment have been resolved and they will get paid soon, but he does not say when.
According to Atiqullah Amarkhail, a military expert, “lack of budget” is a poor reason and raises doubts and big questions. If that is the case, then where does the billions of dollars of foreign funding for military salaries and expenditures go?
Mr. Amarkhail says that if 200 soldiers who are serving and protecting the gates of the capital city are not paid for months, almost a year even, then those soldiers who are surrendering remote districts of Badakhshan province to the enemy shouldn’t be blamed.
These experts and representatives of the people in the Lower House of the Parliament also warn that in a time when the siege of the capital city is tightening by the Taliban due to ambiguous moves of government forces in surrendering districts to the enemy, not paying soldiers’ salaries is an unforgivable crime for the government.
Mir Haidar Afzali, chairman of the House Commission on Defense and Security Affairs, believes non-payment of soldiers salaries is one of the key reasons for the fall of districts and security check posts in some provinces of the country and says that is would lower the moral of the soldier and would have negative impact on the current situation of the country.
Mr. Afzaly adds that he will follow up the issues through the Parliament.