‘Few Talibani take Afghan offer to switch sides’
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 14:58
  
New York: Out of the 40,000 Taliban militants in Afghanistan, an estimated 1,700 are willing to reconcile with the US, a media report has claimed.

"When I decided to switch sides, I was fed up with fighting," Toor Jan, a former 28-year-old militant told The New York Times.

"I cannot pull the trigger anymore. I am just tired of it."

Toor Jan is a product of a heavily financed peace program, which aims to bring Taliban fighters over to the government side.

Of the 1,700 militants, who have enrolled in the 10-month-old program, only a handful are mid-level commanders and two-thirds are from the north, where the insurgency is weaker, Director of the NATO unit monitoring the program, Major General Phil Jones, told the paper.

Toor Jan is a product of a heavily financed peace program, which aims to bring Taliban fighters over to the government side.

Of the 1,700 militants, who have enrolled in the 10-month-old program, only a handful are mid-level commanders and two-thirds are from the north, where the insurgency is weaker, Director of the NATO unit monitoring the program, Major General Phil Jones, told the paper.

A Western official said that USD 140 million of the USD 150 million pledged for the plan came from Western governments, much of it from the United States and Japan and it was already in Afghan accounts.

NYT reported that the money provides a small, short-term stipend to fighters who change sides, and then rewards their communities with generous development and job programs - rather than handing out money or jobs to fighters.

This prevents fighters from switch sides after collecting the money.



General Jones noted that the program has grown more slowly in the south and east because many fighters fear that Taliban will take revenge if they lay down their arms.

"We'll only see big numbers when there is a little more progress on the political track," a Western diplomat said.

For that to happen, he said, "it's important how Pakistan responds."

Western officials said they hope that fighters who have local grievances can be persuaded to enroll in the program.

"You have to look at the motivation of the people doing the fighting," said a Western diplomat in Kabul.

"A number of people became involved because of local disputes over land, over power, over family honor.

"You don't need a deal with the Taliban leadership to solve those," the official said.

"The Taliban is a flag of convenience for them."

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, June 21, 2011, 14:58


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