Ruthless police chief has become most powerful and feared man in southern Afghanistan

Declan Walsh reports: With his boyish looks and hesitant smile, Lt. Gen. Abdul Raziq cuts a modest figure that belies his reputation as a man of both courage and cruelty: the tough-guy sheriff who kept the Taliban out of Kandahar.

“I don’t think people fear me,” said the 37-year-old police chief of Kandahar Province, speaking in the garden of his tightly guarded home as three giggling children swarmed him. “At least I don’t want them to fear me.”

Yet “fear” is a word frequently associated with General Raziq, a favorite of American officials who has, by most reckonings, become the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan and one of the richest.

Since taking control of security in Kandahar three years ago, he has imposed an uneasy peace on this onetime Taliban citadel — insurgent attacks in the city have fallen by two-thirds, according to Western estimates. His name prompts dread among the Taliban, experts say.

But those gains have been sullied by accounts of widespread human rights abuses by the security forces that have caused his erstwhile American champions to publicly distance themselves from the hard-charging police chief. [Continue reading…]

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