Militants who gave up arms wary of ‘government deception’
Mazar-i-sharif(PAN):North Zone security officials said 750 Taliban militants have joined the peace process this year. The militants, on the other hand, said that many might go back to the Taliban unless the government pays attention to their problems.
Schools, roads and healthcare top their demands.
“In the past four months,” said General Abdul Rahman Sead Khili, the Kunduz police chief, “350 militants joined the peace process in Kunduz alone.”
Taliban militants have increased their presence in some northern Afghan provinces over the last two years, but security officials said their operations have greatly stabilised the region.
“In the last six months, 750 insurgents have joined the peace process in the North Zone while 100 have been arrested,” said General Muhammad Dawod Dawod, the 303 Pamir Zone commander.
While he didn’t have detailed information on the Taliban casualties, he said successful operations were carried out in Baghlan, Kunduz, Balkh, Faryab, and Sar-e-Pul provinces.
General Toryali Wesa, the 209 Corps commander, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “In all, 119 insurgents were killed and seven arrested. Among those killed were Taliban commanders such as Mulla Ahmad Shah, Shir Agha, Hayat Ullah, and Qari Ziauddin.”
The soldiers seized “631 weapons, 1,403 kg of opium, 596 kg of hashish, 7,700 bottles and 6,806 litres of alcohol,” said Wesa.
Many militants who joined the peace process said they joined the Taliban because of government apathy to local problems.
Jamaludin, the Taliban commander in northern Kunduz’s Chardara district, joined the peace process with 10 other militants. “I fought against the government for a year and a half,” he said. “But when security forces started their operations, we couldn’t match them. I will try to get more militants to join the process.”
Others said they joined the Taliban because they felt it was a lesser evil than the government. “I knew the Taliban were destroying Afghanistan, but some government officials created bigger problems,” said Muhammad Ismail, the Taliban group commander in Dara-e-Sof district of Samangan province, refusing to elaborate.
Muhammad Ismail, who joined the government along with 24 others a month ago, said provincial councils and ethnic elders guaranteed that the government would solve the problems of their areas. “The government must construct roads, schools, clinics and start other developmental projects,” he said.
But the cracks are already showing in the peace process. Seven Taliban commanders, who gave up their arms along 100 other militants, in Kunduz’s Chardara district, said the government was not delivering on its promises.
Some said this might force them to rejoin the Taliban.
Zia, a Taliban commander who joined the peace process with 50 fighters four months ago, said: “The government pledged aid, but never gave it. If the government deceives us, the peace process will lose its value.”
Dawod said plans are being put in place to fulfill the promises. “Some of those who joined us are even being armed to fight the militants and boost security,” he added. Many of the militants who gave up arms were appointed as policemen.
Residents of the region said the process would work as long as the government delivers on its promises.
Hajji Dad Ullah, of Chamtal district in northern Balkh province, said: “Many joined the Taliban only out of frustration with the government. If the government solves their problems and finds them employment, the Taliban will be weakened.”
Security analysts said the problem surfaced, in the first place, because of the government’s ineptness.
Colonel Muhammad Husain, a security analyst in northern Balkh province, said: “It’s not just in the north. All over Afghanistan, youths joined the Taliban because the government ignored them or ill-treated them. Corruption in provincial institutions, such as courts, should be tackled and developmental projects should be started.”
He added: “If the government is not careful, no one can guarantee that the militants won’t rejoin the Taliban.”
The Taliban, meanwhile, said that the number of militants who have given up arms was lower than the government claimed.
Zabi Ullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News: “Most of those who joined the peace process are those who committed crimes and were dismissed from the Taliban. Not more than 100 Taliban have joined the peace process. The government is exaggerating the number.”
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