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    Chamtal, Charbolak residents seek reconstruction projects

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Residents of Chamtal and Charbolak districts of northern Balkh province on Saturday demanded reconstruction projects should go side by side with security operations in their areas.

    While hoping the offensives would lead to peace and stability in the immediate term, they feared the militants would return to the areas once the security personnel had left.

    Provincial officials said operations had been launched to clear the districts of insurgents. They added preparations were underway to initiate reconstruction projects.

    The peace process was sped up this month, when four Taliban -- led by Fida Muhammad -- surrendered with their weapons in the Jarkala village of Chamtal, the Balkh police chief said.

    Gen. Asmatullah Alizai said the operations codenamed Ibtekar (Initiative) would go on for six months. Some reconstruction projects would also be launched in the two districts, Gen. Alizai indicated.

    There were no Taliban in the areas at the moment, but they could return once the operation was over, said Sufi Janullah, a resident of the Arab Mazari village in Chamtal.

    Residents are facing problems due to lousy roads and lack of medical clinics, according to Safdar, a dweller of the Jarkala village. Out-of-job youth tended to swell Taliban's ranks, he added.