Few Taliban Embrace Reconciliation Process

It looks like those peace talks with Taliban are not working out so well. Only a handful are midlevel commanders have enrolled in the 10 month old program.
The Daily Times reported:

A well-financed Afghan government programme aimed at bringing Taliban fighters to the government’s side appears to have met with little success.

Of the 1,700 fighters who have enrolled in the 10-month-old programme, only a handful are midlevel commanders, and two-thirds are from the north, where the insurgency is much weaker than in the south, said Major General Phil Jones, the director of a NATO unit that is monitoring the programme, according to The New York Times.

The total is only a fraction of the 20,000 to 40,000 Taliban insurgents, and many of the fighters who have taken advantage of the programme may not even be Taliban, just men with weapons, the newspaper said in dispatch from Kabul. The Taliban’s leaders have yet to embrace reconciliation, the Times said. Defence Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged publicly on Sunday that the United States had begun preliminary reconciliation talks with members of the Taliban, but he expressed scepticism about the results.

Other diplomats said that a significant number of Taliban fighters will not switch sides unless such talks advance. But Western governments are committed to the plan to persuade fighters to switch sides, the dispatch said. “It is well financed, with $140 million of the $150 million pledged from Western governments, much of it from the United States and Japan, already in Afghan accounts,” an unidentified Western military official was cited as saying.

The money provides a small, short-term stipend to fighters who change sides, and then rewards their communities with generous development and job programmes rather than handing out money or jobs to fighters, the Times said. The incentives were designed to prevent abuses of past programmes, under which fighters would change sides with the seasons, collecting money in the winter, then resuming the fight in the spring or summer.


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