I wrote a post some time ago in which I noted the growing number of fighters joining the government’s reintegration program and asked whether the program is really working.
Well, it is…kind of.
Washington Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reports that there’s been an increase in the number of anti-government fighters willing to lay down their and reintegrate.
British Maj. Gen. Phillip Jones, the NATO military command’s director for reintegration, said there has been a “significant uptick” in interest among insurgents in laying down their weapons. He said that more than 40 groups of fighters, amounting to a few thousand men, are in negotiations with the Afghan government.
There’s apparently been so much interest, in fact, that the Kandahar governor is asking for a breather:
In Kandahar province, a hub of Taliban activity that has been a focus of U.S. military operations, the governor is taking the extraordinary step of urging insurgent leaders to delay their surrender.
“We are not prepared the way we should be,” said the governor, Tooryalai Wesa, who has been approached in recent weeks by emissaries for mid-level Taliban leaders. “We are telling them to wait a little bit.”
The lack of preparation Governor Wesa talks about includes funding restrictions from USAID, slow or incompetent implementation of the program from the Afghan government, delay from inter-ministerial coordination, etc. (Read more on this in the WaPo article.)
And then there is the issue of weeding out false claimants — people who claim they’re fighters only to get the benefits of the program.
Perhaps the most complicated and important of all is the question of justice: should we really be rewarding these people, many of whom have been involved in killings or otherwise illegal activity, instead of prosecuting them? This concern is raised primarily by civil society organizations. But in a different incarnation, Karzai’s political opposition is asking why we should invest so many resources in buying off Taliban fighters instead of rewarding peaceful, law-abiding Afghans.
But for now these questions are ignored in favor an attempt at a swifter path to peace through the reintegration program. But that’s not working too well either.