KABUL -- A Taliban group leader named Rahimullah, together with 14 militants under his command, has joined the peace process in Sar-e-Pul, local officials said.
The former Taliban members expressed remorse for their past activities, saying that the Taliban, their actions, activities and 'laws' imposed on local populations were un-Islamic and wrong.
"On January 21, 15 Taliban militants under the command of Rahimullah, all of whom were residents of the Lati area in the vicinity of the provincial capital, joined the peace process, bringing along their weapons," Zabihullah Amani, spokesman for the Sar-e-Pul governor, told Salaam Times.
"For three years, these individuals were part of the Taliban fighting the security forces in Sar-e-Pul Province," he said. "However, thanks to the efforts and dedication of the [Afghan] National Defence and Security Forces and tribal elders, and after recognition of the legitimacy of the Afghan government, they gave up fighting and joined the peace process."
"These former Taliban militants brought with them 12 Kalashnikovs, a radio communications device and five motorcycles," Amani said.
"[Afghan] security forces will be protecting the Taliban forces who join the peace process," he said. "They may continue their normal lives or join local security forces or local police."
"During the time we spent in the Taliban, their actions, activities and 'laws' proved to us that they are a false group and all their actions are wrong," Mirza Bai, an ex-insurgent who joined the peace process, said during a news conference announcing the militants' surrender.
"The Taliban and their actions benefit neither us nor our country," he said. "Hence, we joined the peace process to save our children and our people from such misery."
"From now on, we will stand by the government and security forces and will help them in providing security," he said.
"Through their war, the Taliban had no achievement other than murder and destruction of their country," Mawlawi Naqibullah, head of the Sar-e-Pul Peace Council, said at the event. "By carrying out their terror activities, they not only have subjected our country and our compatriots to oppression, they caused God's anger and fury."
"If we say we believe in the Holy Koran, and they also say they believe in the Koran, then why fight?" he said. "If it is about power, please come [to us]; if it is about reputation, please come too. On Judgment Day God will severely punish those who kill human beings [including] widows and orphans."
"Just as these individuals who realised the truth after the passage of years, honourably surrendered their weapons to the government, and joined the peace process, I say to the Taliban: you too must refrain from murdering your own compatriots and destroying your own country," Sar-e-Pul tribal elder Abdul Matin Khan told Salaam Times. "Come with dignity and choose the path of peace, which is an Islamic, humane and moral principle."
"Including these former Taliban members in the peace process will result in better security for this province," he said.
"Since the time the Afghan High Peace Council became operational [in September 2010], 12,000 militants with 6,000 of their light and heavy weapons have joined the peace process," Mohammad Esmail Qasemyar, an international relations adviser to the High Peace Council, told Salaam Times.
"Peace is in the interests of the Taliban, the Afghan people and the Afghan government, while the continuation of war will be detrimental to both the Taliban and Afghanistan," he said.
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