KABUL -- A group of Taliban fighters has surrendered to the Afghan government in Kapisa Province, pledging to fight alongside the nation's security forces against militants.
On January 22, 56 Taliban insurgents laid down their arms and joined the peace process in Kuhband District.
Mawlawi Abdurrab, commander of the former militants, expressed regret for his previous destructive activities. Moving forward, he will fight alongside Afghan forces against the government's foes, he said.
"We have fought against the government for many years. The outcome of war is nothing more than destruction and bloodshed," he told Salaam Times. "My colleagues and I do not wish to create chaos among the public any more. We have decided to work with the government to protect our regions."
"I'm personally ready to join the ranks of the security forces in order to serve my people and to deny any opportunities to the enemies," Abdurrab said.
Gul Agha, a former militant using an alias out of concern for his safety, expressed remorse for his past actions.
"The Taliban implement the objectives of foreigners in our homeland," he told Salaam Times. "Had I known this from the beginning, I would have never taken up weapons."
"I regret my past, and I want to support my government, so that it can provide us with a peaceful environment and can improve our province," he said.
"I have decided to get a halal job and provide my family with legitimate sustenance," he said.
A positive step for security
The former militants fought the Afghan government in the Malang Khil area of Kuhband District for many years, according to Qais Qaderi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
"They finally realised the legitimacy of the government and agreed to join the peace process, thanks to the unceasing efforts of the Kapisa provincial government," he told Salaam Times. "We praise this action."
The group's members have pledged that they will become the government's partners instead of fighting it, said provincial Police Chief Abdul Razaq Yaqoubi.
"We accepted and embraced them, since they agreed to accept all of the government's decisions, to obey the law and to refrain from threatening security in Kapisa," he told Salaam Times.
"Previously in Kuhband District, there existed serious concerns regarding the movements of armed men and we received many complaints from the area's residents," Yaqoubi said. "However, this is no longer the case. The joining of this armed group to the peace process has had a positive impact on the safety of Kuhband, as it did on the safety of all of Kapisa Province."
The decision by the former insurgents to lay down their weapons will have a direct impact on those who still battle the government, he said.
"When members of an armed group give up fighting and insurgency and return to their areas, then other insurgents who have not joined the peace process will be affected," he said. "The security authorities, especially Kapisa police and intelligence, are making every effort to help [former militants] continue to lead normal lives."
A better life for all
The Afghan government is committed to providing a better life for insurgents who lay down arms, said Qaderi.
"When a group joins the peace process, we use the government's facilities to improve their lives," he said.
"[Initially], each person will receive a salary equal to an Afghan government [employee's] for a period of six months. As for their commanders, they will be paid 15,000 AFN ($216), while other members of the group will receive 8,000 AFN ($115) per month."
"Upon conclusion of the six-month period, provincial officials as well as domestic and foreign donors will help them," he said. "They will be assigned to work in useful businesses, such as carpentry, metalworking, construction, etc., in order to provide them with the necessary potential to achieve economic growth."
"When there are two systems of governance in one place, namely, the state and the opposition, it is only natural that [residents] face many problems," Mawlawi Abdul Waris Rohani, head of the Kapisa Dispute Resolution Commission, told Salaam Times. "The group's activities were both detrimental to the security of the locals and threatening to the Afghan security forces."
"After [the former militants] accepted the constitution, [residents] are calm and have higher trust in the security of Kapisa," he said.
During the past three years, the commission has invited dozens of insurgents to join the peace process, and work is continuing, according to Ruhani.
"Our dream is to ensure the security and progress of the country. I just became more hopeful when I heard this news," said Firuz Kuhestani, a 26-year-old grocer in Kapisa Province, told Salaam Times.
"[Residents] will become hopeful that their province will be safer," he said. "With the provision of security, the path to progress will be paved."