Thursday, October 12, 2006

Taliban frustrated over handling of their amnesty

Paul Workman tells about meeting "five local leaders of the Taliban, ready -- they said -- to accept the Afghanistan government's offer of amnesty, or at least to consider it." They are hoping to see a more normal life by accepting amnesty. One of them says, "Whenever I want to come out from my house, I dress like a woman." If the Taliban know of his connections with the other side he would be killed. In fact, he has "been living under the patronage and protection of the Pakistani intelligence service." He knows "the location of many Taliban safe houses," when Pakistan provides "houses, food, motorcycles, telephones." One of them says he has "fought the NATO forces many times." (Does he know the difference between NATO forces, who are fairly new to area, and American?) "We don't want to hurt civilians, and that's why we're here." They say they didn't come for money, but for a "comfortable life." In the end, it is not clear that these men will accept the amnesty offer: "We've been here for 20 days, and nobody has asked us what we need," complains one of them.

Somehow the idea that the British are going to buy these guys to come on to our side - what Christina Lamb says ("British hire anti-Taliban mercenaries" The London Times, 10/09/2006) - makes me wonder. Mercenaries are notoriously problematic (well, mercenary) and that these guys will successfully make the switch seems to me a stretch. Dupree's aphorism "You can rent an Afghan but you can't buy him" seems as true as ever.

Taliban frustrated over handling of their amnesty
Published: October 8, 2006 (CTV News)

We were taken by our translator to a large house in Kandahar's so-called "Green Zone," an area of the city that is more protected, but not necessarily safe. Hidden behind the walls was a lush garden with flowering plants and pomegranate trees, rare in this impoverished, desert climate.

British hire anti-Taliban mercenaries
Published: October 9, 2006 (The London Times)

British forces holed up in isolated outposts of Helmand province in Afghanistan are to be withdrawn over the next two to three weeks and replaced by newly formed tribal police who will be recruited by paying a higher rate than the Taliban.

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