Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), a corruption watchdog, on Sunday released a report on illegal mining activities in Afghanistan, including an mineral extraction operation organized by a Local Police Commander in Kunar province.
The Afghan mining industry has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, attracting major investments from countries around the world. However, the recent IWA report argues that the industry as well as security would be adversely affected if illegal mining operations are allowed to go unstopped.
According to IWA, a Afghan Local Police (ALP) Commander in Khas District of Kunar has been running an illegal chromite extraction operation for over a year without hindrance. In fact, the report released on Sunday says the Commander was supported by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), a U.S. group under the Department of Defense dedicated to economic stabilization in Afghanistan.
According to IWA, TFBSO provided equipment for the local commander.
But the transparency advocacy group denounced the operation and called on TFBSO to halt any plans for any similar initiatives elsewhere in the country.
The IWA report argued that illegal mining by officials in Afghanistan would further the deterioration of local security by undermining the rule of law and trust with local residents. The report also suggested illegal extractions could fuel conflicts between communities unequally benefiting from the operations and could lead to the "evolution of organized-crime networks."
Sediq Sediqi, the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan Local Police (ALP), condemned police officers engaging in illegal mining operations and said any found to be doing so would see legal repercussions.
"No one within the police has the right to do this and those who do will face justice and hard punishment," Sediqi told TOLOnews.
IWA called for stricter regulation on the Afghan mining sector, which if left has unstructured as it is, could see potential profit for the national economy slip by. The report recommended that the Ministry of Mines issue a report to the public and Parliament every six months on the status of illegal extraction in the country.