The Canadian military has begun paying the salaries of Afghan police directly, following reports that impoverished police officers weren't receiving money owed by the Afghan government.
"The money did not get to these guys," Brig.-Gen. Guy Larochesaid in an interview withthe Globe and Mail published Tuesday. "Somebody is taking 10 per cent here, 10 per cent there, and at the end, the poor guy is left with nothing."
According to the Globe, Canadian and U.S. soldiers who have been charged with mentoring Afghan police will hand the officers their salary in cash, as banks are not easily accessible in rural areas of the country.
The money for police salaries comes from an Afghanistan government trust fund that is funded by donor countries. Canada is a major contributor.
The Afghan government had been paying the police through a chain of command. Salaries of $77 a month were supposed to rise to $150 a month, but most officers were receiving only a fraction of the money, and it was slow to arrive.
"The government failed to pay salaries, made promises and didn't pay them, so the condition of the police was very bad," Bismullah Khan, a Panjwaii police chief, told the Globe. "We are happy about the Canadians' new plan because I want my men trained and paid."
The CBC's Carolyn Dunn, reporting from Kandahar, said the problems with police salaries are not new.
"It has been ongoing for many many months, even into years, that the Afghan police are just not getting paid in a timely fashion," Dunn said. "The tack right now is to say, 'Look, let's just get these guys paid, let them support their families.'"
The Canadian military relies on the Afghan police to bolster security in Afghanistan, Dunn said, particularly in the volatile Panjwaii district, where local police have already faced significant losses in battles with militant fighters.
According to the Globe, police officers have been resorting to theft in order to support themselves and their families.
"If the Canadians pay the police, the police won't steal things from us," Noor Rahman, a store owner in Kandahar city, told the Globe. "If they have a good salary, maybe they will behave.
"The Canadians will give them good training and weapons and monthly salaries, and this way they can clean the Taliban from our area."