Appeal of amnesty dwindles for Taliban as insurgency grows in strength

The appeal of amnesty has dwindled dramatically for Taliban thinking of giving up arms, hinting at an insurgency that is increasing its resolve and complicating President Hamid Karzai’s promise to reach out to insurgents.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The appeal of amnesty has dwindled dramatically for Taliban thinking of giving up arms, hinting at an insurgency that is increasing its resolve and complicating President Hamid Karzai’s promise to reach out to insurgents.

Reconciliation programs in Afghanistan, and Kandahar in particular, have become less effective over the past three years as both the international community and the Afghan government prove unable to co-opt insurgents.

Only 89 Taliban members have signed up so far this year for Kandahar’s branch of the National Reconciliation Program, compared to more than 300 in 2006.

The program’s administrators in Kabul confirmed last year’s national figures were below those of 2006, but declined to provide exact numbers to The Canadian Press.

“The Taliban are getting stronger than they were before,” said Haji Agha Lalai, a prominent Panjwaii district elder and former director of Kandahar’s reconciliation program.

“Also the government does not support us very well and we could not fulfil our promises to Taliban.”

Promises of jobs and land have largely gone unfulfilled for want of funding, prompting some of those Taliban who have come in from the cold to think about going out again.

“If I knew that their promises were just useless, I would never come to this program,” said Mulla Muhammad Zahir, a former Talib who joined in 2006.

“Now to support my family I might go back to the Taliban, because it is a long time and I have not received anything.”

Karzai vowed to make the reintegration of insurgents a centrepiece of his new government during his inauguration speech last week.

Canadian officials are now working with Karzai’s national security team to revamp the existing program.

“To be frank, the efforts so far haven’t been able to get at the nub of the problem,” said the Canada’s ambassador in Kabul, Bill Crosbie.

Among the issues Crosbie wants addressed are the security of those who join disarmament and reconciliation programs.

Despite joining Kandahar’s program more than three years ago, Zahir continues to be targeted by his former Taliban colleagues.

“Still I am under the threats,” he said. “Taliban tried killing me for three times.”

But perhaps the greatest factor working against reconciliation is the sense among insurgents that momentum is in their favour.

“The timing is not ripe for a top-down reconciliation program,” Crosbie said. “The timing needs to reflect the dynamics of the military operations… we have to demonstrate the momentum has shifted.”

Questions about Karzai’s legitimacy following the country’s scandal-plagued election compound the difficulty of getting insurgents to participate.

Just Posted

Bystanders help Innisfail Mountie make arrest

A 35-year-old Ottawa man is facing a number of charges including resisting arrest

More supports for homeless needed for Red Deer

Provincial funding recently announced for Lethbridge

Second Central Alberta born jaguar dies

Mia’s brother Magnum dead at Discovery Wildlife Park

High profile individual delays UCP vote for Red Deer-South

Nomination vote to be held early in 2019

Police back mandatory alcohol screening

New legislation taking effect on Dec. 18 allows alcohol testing of all drivers legally stopped

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Beyonce performs at pre-wedding party in India

Beyonce brought her star power to a pre-wedding party for the daughter… Continue reading

Kirk Douglas celebrates 102nd birthday

LOS ANGELES — Actor Kirk Douglas got to celebrate his 102nd birthday… Continue reading

Ellen Page steps up attack on Nova Scotia pulp mill’s effluent pipeline

HALIFAX — Hollywood actor Ellen Page is doubling down on her criticism… Continue reading

Pence aide out of running to be Trump’s next chief of staff

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top pick to replace chief of staff… Continue reading

Swath of South faces wintry mess: Snow, sleet, freezing rain

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain… Continue reading

‘I killed my best friend’: Opioids’ fatal grip on mayor, pal

MOUNT CARBON, Pa. — Janel Firestone found her son — the 24-year-old,… Continue reading

Most Read