You can’t buy love, but British authorities, with the full support of NATO, are trying to rent it for a monthly payment. You’ll want to read this one sitting down. “Taliban paid Â£100 a month to stop fighting,” by Sean Rayment for the Telegraph, November 26:
Members of the Taliban who give up their fight are being paid Â£100 a month and will be allowed to keep their guns in a new initiative to end the insurgency.
The “reintegration” programme, which has the full support of Nato, is intended to keep them from attacking troops from the International Stabilisation and Assistance Force (ISAF).
Those who have attacked and killed British forces are also effectively given an amnesty, which means they will never be put on trial.
The amnesty extends to all Taliban fighters, including those who have taken part in atrocities, such as murdering children, beheadings and hanging women.
The agreement is part of a policy signed by the British Government in which insurgents are being allowed to “walk off the battlefield” and enter a “reintegration” scheme.
Are you still sitting down? Good:
Taliban joining the programme are not interrogated but instead are asked to complete a questionnaire explaining their reasons for joining the insurgency.
The truth is stranger than Monty Python. It would only befit the general surrealism of the situation that the Ministry of Silly Walks and the Kilimanjaro expedition jointly administer the questionnaires. (“Will both of you be surrendering?”)
The strategy has been designed to encourage rank and file Taliban to stop fighting and instead return to their communities with “dignity and honour”.
More than 2,700 insurgents have been reintegrated into mainstream Afghan society since October 2010, with 800 now described as “showing interest in leaving the Taliban”.
Of those, about 90 are from Helmand, where nearly 400 British troops have been killed and more than 5,000 injured.
The reintegration policy has already produced some startling results. In northern Afghanistan, about 900 former Taliban have left the insurgency and violence has decreased by 30 per cent.
What happens when the dough dries up, or someone gets a better offer?
But it is not without risk. Maj Gen David Hook, the director of the Joint Force Integration Cell in Kabul, admitted in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that the programme would be difficult for many British families to accept but insisted that reintegration was vital if peace was to be achieved.
The British general, who previously served as a commander in southern Afghanistan, said he saw some horrendous examples of Taliban brutality, which he said he would have “personally found difficult to forgive”.
The general confirmed that even if the insurgent who murdered five members of the Grenadier Guards battlegroup at a check point in Nad e”Ali in November 2009 entered the scheme, he would not be prosecuted. “This is an Afghan process which the international community signed up to,” said Maj Gen Hook.
It’s an Afghan process, but it’s not Afghan money.
“My role is to support the Afghans in that process. This idea of forgiveness has been agreed by the international donors and the UK has given Â£6.5″‰ million and helped design the programme to deliver peace at the local level.
“We accepted large numbers of IRA back into our own society because we wanted peace in Northern Ireland and I don’t see it any different in Afghanistan.”