Afghan militants lay down arms

A group of armed anti-government militants have renounced fighting and handed over their arms to authorities on Dec. 9, in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan.

CA Online and wire services

2009-12-09

A group of armed anti-government militants gave up fighting and handed over their arms to authorities on Dec. 9 in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan. Thirty fighters under the command of Gul Rahman resumed their peaceful life, said provincial Police Chief Mohammad Kabir Andarabi.

According to the head of the government-backed Commission for Strengthening Peace in north Afghanistan, Wazir Gul, 1,300 militants have given up militancy this year.

In late November, Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his Eid holiday message demanded co-operation towards stability from "all our brothers who stand armed against their country...We will continue to invite them until peace and stability come to this country,” he added.

“This is an initiative of the Afghan people, and I wish Mullah Muhammad Omar [Taliban leader] and all other Taliban recognise this necessity and join with us and participate in the reconstruction of their country.”

The campaign to persuade legions of Taliban gunmen to stop fighting was launched in Afghanistan recently. In some regions the government is working with tribal leaders to help draw local fighters and commanders from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select.

Tribal leaders believe that many more insurgents would willingly put down their guns in return for worthwhile employment.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe that spans three eastern provinces. “They need something to keep them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”

At a ceremony in early December in Kabul, about 70 insurgents laid down their guns before the commissioners and agreed to accept the Afghan Constitution. Some of the men had fought for the Taliban, and some for Hezb-i-Islami, another insurgent group. The fighters’ motives ranged from disillusionment to exhaustion.

“How long should we fight the government? How many more years?” said Molawi Fazullah, a Taliban lieutenant who surrendered with nine others. “Our leaders misled us, and we destroyed our country.”

[Xinhua, The New York Times, metro.co.uk]

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