As officials label the Afghan security handover a ‘victory’, tonight's Panorama uncovers a drug-addled and violent police force poised to bring the country to its knees.
‘This is victory. This is what winning looks like and we should not shrink from using these words.’
So spoke General John Allen, former commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan. But Ben Anderson doesn’t see the ongoing security handover that way. In tonight’s Panorama, the journalist and Esquire contributor travels to Sangin, one of the most violent districts in the country, and shows us a police force riddled with corruption. Routine practices include the extortion of innocent prisoners, use of child sex-slaves, and heroin addiction – so it’s no wonder many locals favour Taliban rule.
‘What we are actually leaving behind is an uncertain and terrifying future for the Afghans,’ says Anderson. ‘The trip to Sangin was my ninth in the past six years. It was also the most worrying because it was the clearest glimpse I have had of what that future looks like.
Mission Accomplished? Secrets of Helmand will be broadcast on Panorama on BBC1 at 8.30pm tonight
Words by Stephanie Soh