"Imposters" join peace drive in Nangarhar
JALALABAD (PAN): Residents on Saturday claimed individuals pretending to be Taliban militants were joining the government-initiated peace drive in eastern Nangarhar province to benefit from certain privileges.
No noted insurgent leader has so far reconciled with the Karzai administration through the Nangarhar High Peace Committee, they insisted. But the committee claims 160 insurgents have so far joined the peace process, turning in 117 guns.
A Pachiragam district resident, Asil Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News none of those who had joined the reconciliation programme were insurgents. "They are common people. I know them personally, I can even name them," he said.
Declining to be identified, a development council member in Sherzad district endorsed claims that many people had joined the peace drive, but they had no connections with the insurgents.
A dweller of Totokai village, he argued: "If Taliban had really embraced the peace campaign, there would have been some improvement in the security situation." He insisted "imposters" had jumped on the reconciliation bandwagon.
Real Taliban fighters had consistently ruled out talks with the peace committee, said a Ghanikhel district resident, Zahidur Rahman. "I know Taliban commander Khalid who once agreed to talks, but later changed his mind as there were some members in the committee he disliked."
But Nangarhar High Peace Committee head, Malik Nazir, ruled out the possibility of an imposter joining the drive and rejected the allegations as misperceptions. Peace negotiators had established effective good contacts with insurgents and their leaders, he insisted.
Provincial council member, Zabihullah Zmarai, said the peace body had little ability and spirit to work in the government's interest. "Some cannot travel even to their hometowns. They cannot think of entering negotiations with the Taliban."
Another council member Mufti Moeen Shah held a similar view, saying peace body members had many times shown on TV and at press conferences men they claimed were fighters in order to keep their jobs.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, also said those who had joined the peace campaign had no connection with the movement. "After investigating such reports, we have reached the conclusion that those surrendering to the government are common people and have no ties to the Taliban."
But Malik Nazir complained the people making anti-peace statements wanted to sabotage the process. He said those who had joined the drive had been confirmed by police, intelligence officials and other security organs.
So far 6,000 militants have reconciled with the government across the country, according to the High Peace Council.
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