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Bickering Afghans failing to lure Taliban defectors due to lack of money, leadership

By Abdul Nisar

Kabul, Sept.7 (ANI): With Afghans bickering over who should run a 250 million dollar program to lure low-level Taliban fighters away from the insurgency, international donors have decided to go slow on putting up the money they had promised.

According to the New York Times, the United States has spent only 200,000 dollars of the promised fund so far and donors have done little or nothing by way of contributions.

During this period, the flow of Taliban fighters seeking to reintegrate has slowed to a trickle - by the most optimistic estimates, a few hundred in the last six months.

It is not clear whether that is because of the lack of a program that would provide them with jobs, security guarantees and other incentives, or because most Taliban no longer see the insurgency as a losing proposition.

In the past five years, a poorly funded Afghan reintegration effort, the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, recorded 9,000 Taliban who sought to join the government side - compared with 100 since April, officials said.

"It's almost dead," said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, a top official at the nearly moribund commission in Kabul.

He claimed that employees there had not been paid for three months.

He said: "The Taliban know the government doesn't have a single policy for peace and reconciliation."

This year, the US Congress earmarked 100 million dollars to support reintegration programs, while at the London Conference on Afghanistan in February, several countries, Britain, Germany and Japan among them, promised another 150 million dollars to go into a Peace and Reintegration Trust Fund, to be administered jointly by the Afghan government and foreign backers.

So far, Britain has put in about 2.6 million dollars, although officials said the nation was committed to about 7.5 million dollars. Money has yet to come from Germany, which pledged 64 million dollars, and Japan, which pledged 50 million dollars - although officials said both countries were expected to contribute this month.

Only Estonia has put in its full contribution of 64,000 dollars.There is little or no pressure on the donors to meet their pledges more quickly. (ANI)

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