USMAN GHAZI The New York Times reports that US CIA has terminated its contract with Xe Services (formerly Blackwater Worldwide) for loading bombs onto drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This comes as Xe Services and CIA have come under fire from US congressmen for the nature and extent of the involvement of a private contractor in the conduct of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. New York Times also reported that Xe Services had already lost another defence contract earlier this year, which was for providing protection to the US embassy staff in Iraq because of its involvement in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007. Five employees of Xe Services have been indicted for those killings. Many reports of local activities of Xe Services have been printed by this newspaper earlier. War is an instrument of state policy and therefore should be conducted by the state forces alone. No legal system in the world authorises the outsourcing of war to private entities because of its sensitive nature and the possible fallout from an authorisation to kill given to people over which they have no formal control. CIA maintains that it hires private contractors to do support duties though the involvement of Xe Services in the Iraqi killings is proof that once they come under fire in a hostile situation who can stop them from shooting, being armed for the same. The outsourcing of war has a long history starting from mercenaries of old times to the present day. What we are suffering today is also because of one such act of arming and training private armies in the last Cold War conflict, which have now turned on their former masters. Most of the top leadership of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are those who were once trained by us, equipped by CIA and financed by the Saudis to fight a war against the Red Army in Afghanistan when all three desired to stay out of active engagement for the fear of turning a cold war into a hot war. However, it does not behove us to point a finger at others, as in Pakistan we are still outsourcing our security jobs to private groups. Our police cannot be relied to provide internal security due to widespread corruption, incompetence and a lack of will to fight amongst its members, whose majority signed up not to fight but to make money through corruption. This is proved by the existence of numerous security outfits with licences to bear deadly firearms, private security guards and the issuance of arms permits to people by the thousands every year. The police is there only to provide security to state officials and its own officers because if it would have considered the provision of security to people as its pride and joy, it would have resisted the growth of such security outfits and so much firearms in the hands of poorly regulated private security sector would have given policemen nightmares. Similarly, jihadi outfits were another way to outsource the fighting of wars, which proved to be a menace when they get out of control. Yet lessons have been learnt neither by us nor by the US. The Pakistani government is happy to foster local lashkars in the tribal areas under the pretext of garnering the support of locals against militants oblivious to the future ramifications of raising and arming another militia, who might later have demands of their own which are at odds with state policy. The military has forgotten that the concept and the reason for the existence of a standing army preclude the existence of such groups. Similarly, the US backed Afghan regime maintains its supports in most of Afghanistan through deals and arrangements with local warlords out of necessity and it goes without saying they will inherit Afghanistan after the United States exit. The day they get annoyed with the Afghan government, the latter would have no control in the country except of a few localities in Kabul. If this policy ends in its logical conclusion then on the both sides of the border the situation would not be much different from that of worn-torn African republics, with warlords as rulers. Arming one militia to replace another is never a progress towards peace, order and security. There are legal and moral arguments against entrusting the civilians with a licence to kill. Firstly, authorising a group of civilians to bear arms against others is bound to get out of control and result in anarchy. Secondly, no civilised state with a constitution and legal system that has entrusted the responsibility of the security of its people to a standing army could tolerate the growth of such rag tag and undisciplined armed outfits unless it desires its own destruction from within at the hands of warring factions that might continue fighting for generations. Finally, international legal order does not accept the rise of such non-state actors which might rightly threaten world peace (like Somalian pirates) and which may not be amenable to the jurisdiction and responsibilities under international law. For the sake of the security of the people of Pakistan, our government should outlaw all private security establishments and cancel all arms licences and permits if it considers the provision of security as its duty. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as the man responsible for state's security, should take a principled stance of eliminating all such organised armed groups, not because the US demands so, but because: firstly, there is neither a concept nor a precedent of disorganised and clandestine jihad in Islam without the authorisation of the Islamic state; secondly, the existence of a standing army and state forces cannot be justified if such armed gangs are licensed to do the fighting for maintaining security. Taking a human life away is a serious matter in a civilised state and it should only be allowed either at the orders of a court through capital punishment or in exceptional circumstances through an authorised military action. The writer is a lawyer and a visiting lecturer at the University of the Punjab. Email;