In 2005, the U.S.-backed Afghan government instituted a reconciliation program aimed at reintegrating insurgents who aggressively opposed the U.S. invasion of their country. With minimal political support and inadequate funding, that program failed, and many who voluntarily left groups such as the Taliban have received none of the promised benefits.
In a rare style of reporting that reveals the human vulnerability of the United States’ official enemies in Afghanistan, Foreign Policy correspondent Emilie Jelinek, who has been reporting from that country since 2004, lets the frustrated Afghans speak for themselves. —ARK
Three months ago I met Haji Ismael, the head of Khost’s Program Tahkim Sulh (commonly referred to as the PTS, the government’s former National Program for Reconciliation), set up in 2005 to reconcile and reintegrate insurgents with the objective of “healing national wounds.” The program failed, due to poor funding and a lack of political support, which meant that opportunities to bring in Taliban were squandered. The Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP) now proposes to integrate the existing capacities of the PTS into its framework, although it is unclear how, with the added risk that this will simply revive former failed efforts under a new name.
... When I met him [Ismael], in February, he introduced me to two recently reconciled insurgents, who told me they’d decided to stop fighting for two reasons. Firstly, because they said they trusted the head of the provincial commission; and secondly, because the government had promised them jobs, housing and benefits if they surrendered. This was almost a year ago, and they haven’t seen a single Pakistani Rupee.
“I regret joining this process; all of my brothers regret it as well,” one of them told me. “We have received no assistance from the government, nothing that they promised. We gave up everything in Miram Shah [the capital of Pakistan’s North Waziristan agency, and a center of Taliban-affiliated groups] and now we have nothing, we can’t get jobs. Our six families share a single room. Not even animals live the way we do now. We receive threatening calls from Miram Shah, that we will be found and killed and our home attacked.”
Flickr / isafmedia
Insurgents reportedly identified as Taliban hear the terms of their surrender amid an Afghan-led combat operation in 2010.