Security

Nearly 300 Taliban fighters lay down arms in Balkh, Sar-e-Pul

By Hedayatullah

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Taliban fighters are shown October 4 in Chaharkent District, Balkh Province, before surrendering their weapons to local authorities. [Afghan Ministry of Defence]

KUNDUZ -- About 280 Taliban fighters have laid down their weapons and joined the peace process in Balkh and Sar-e-Pul provinces since last month, say local officials.

Pressure on the Taliban increased after militants attacked Jundor village on September 16 as villagers refused to pay ushr and zakat. The assault left six members of one family dead and wounded several others, according to Saleema Mazari, the district governor of Chaharkent in Balkh Province.

Following efforts by tribal elders, 120 Taliban fighters, including child soldiers, were persuaded to surrender to local authorities on October 4, she said.

"After realising that war is not the solution, this group parted ways with the Taliban and joined the National Defence and Security Forces," Mazari said.

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Members of the Taliban, including a number of child fighters, pose for a photo in Balkhab District, Sar-e-Pul Province, on October 4 as they surrender to local authorities. [Afghan Ministry of Defence]

"While expressing their regret... this group handed over their arms and equipment to the defence and security forces," the Ministry of Defence announced Tuesday (October 6).

This group of Taliban was led by Mullah Khudaidad, an ethnic Uzbek, and had been fighting against the government for the last two years, according to Shamsuddin Sadaat, a tribal elder in Balkh Province.

"About 400 families live in Jundor village," said Sadaat. "Fortunately, with good co-ordination and regular communication, we convinced them [the Taliban militants] to surrender."

"Once they informed us of their readiness, and together with the district governor and the chief of the National Directorate of Security for Chaharkent District, we went to welcome them during the night and received 120 people according to the list," he said.

"They surrendered 120 weapons including Kalashnikovs, RPGs [rocket propelled grenades], DShKs [Russian machine guns], mortars and ammunition," Sadaat added.

Separately, 150 Taliban fighters joined the peace process Sunday (October 4) in Sar-e-Pul Province.

Pressure on Taliban fighters in Balkhab and Kohistanat districts by security forces led to their surrender, said Mohammad Hanif Razayee, a spokesman for the Afghan National Army's 209th Shaheen Corps based in Mazar-e-Sharif.

"One hundred and fifty Taliban including... local leaders of the Taliban abandoned violence and joined the peace process," Rezayee said.

"Some of the Taliban also are tired of violence and have inclinations toward peace," he said.

Time for peace

Afghans have suffered from two decades of war and destruction and no longer want to hear gunfire, said a number of Balkh residents.

"For the past year, our people in four villages were living in insecurity. There was fighting every day. The residents were being killed or injured daily," said Jafar Ali, 42, a resident of Chaharkent District.

"But with the surrender of this large group of Taliban, it is possible that security will improve and civilians can take a breath," he said.

"For the first time, an exceptional and historic opportunity has been provided to Afghans... the negotiations between Taliban and the Afghan government," said Maroof Naderi, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif, referring to intra-Afghan peace talks being held in Doha, Qatar.

"The time for war has ended. The time for peace has arrived, and the involved parties must use this opportunity," Naderi said.

"The Taliban should not kill people of this country mercilessly under one name or another," said Farida Qayoumi, another resident of Mazar-e-Sharif.

"If the Taliban are after jihad, then against whom are they leading this jihad? Against the defence and security forces who pray five times a day in their positions?" Qayoumi asked.

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4 Comment
Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

A very good opportunity is provided for all the groups who have been fighting to end the occupation. Now that the occupation is ended, they should come and think about building Afghanistan. War is enough; a lot of people have been killed in the last twenty years. Now it is the time to heal the pains of the orphans of this country and wipe out the tears of the children who have survived the war.

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They did very good work as these armed opponents joined the government. Other opponents may also come, stop fighting, and play their role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

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Most of the Taliban who surrendered to the government were from Uzbek and Tajik ethnicities. They joined the Taliban because they had been oppressed by the government authorities. A large number of non-Pashtuns have joined the Taliban group due to enmity with the government and local police. And this number is increasing day by day among all ethnicities. Arbakis and local police in the north are considered a major danger to the government. They oppressed the people and abduct their women and children and raped them. If the government does not disarm Arbakis, in the near future, people will turn to the Taliban and ask for weapons from them and will equip themselves against the government.

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With the surrendering of Taliban’s fighters to the government, the group will experience heavy blow. The government should try to encourage the fighting forces of the Taliban to the peace process through the tribal elders. If these men do not fight for the Taliban, they will not be able to bargain with the Afghan government in Qatar and enforce their demands on the Afghan government. Taliban who are arrogantly talking in Doha, Qatar, is because thousands of their fighters are practically engaged in the war with the Afghan government in this country, and they kill Afghan security forces daily. If Taliban do not have enough fighting forces in Afghanistan, they will not be able to talk about government and changing of the system.

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