Afghanistan's Interior Ministry says it's standing by President Hamid Karzai's decision to shut down private security companies early next year and transfer their responsibilities to a government-run guard force.
Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Monday that all private companies will be disbanded on March 20, 2012.
Karzai last year ordered the disbanding of security companies because they were flouting Afghan laws and creating the equivalent of paramilitary forces.
Their responsibilities would be assumed by a new government-run force _ called the Afghan Public Protection Force _ that will guard NATO and international compounds, development projects and supply convoys.
Sediqqi denied reports that Karzai had extended the deadline by 18 months.