Over 2,000 rebels take Afghan amnesty offer
The reconciliation programme was launched by President Hamid Karzai's administration in a bid to win over the Taliban.india Updated: Oct 04, 2006 18:29 IST
More than 2,000 Taliban rebels and other Islamic fighters have taken up an Afghan government amnesty offer since its launch in 2004, a government official said on Wednesday.
The reconciliation programme was launched by President Hamid Karzai's administration in a bid to win over the Taliban. An insurgency led by the fundamentalist movement has since escalated.
Taliban leaders, including the extremists' chief Mullah Mohammad Omar, are excluded from the offer.
"Some 2,300 Taliban, members of (warlord Gulbuddin) Hekmatyar group and other dissatisfied brothers have joined the peace process so far," said Sebghattullah Mujaddadi, head of the National Reconciliation Commission.
Mujaddadi told reporters in Kabul that military means were not the only solution to Afghanistan's chronic problems but "there is a lot which could be done through peaceful means."
Members of the Taliban leadership had asked to join the peace process provided they were allowed to take part in political activities, but were rejected, he said.
"Taliban elders have contacted us and asked for the right of political activities but we said no. You should surrender and join the peace process first," he said.
He refused to name the elders but said most of them were living in Pakistan and feared their families would be targeted by Pakistani intelligence services if they joined the reconciliation process here.
Mujaddadi repeated claims that much of the violence in Afghanistan was created by Pakistan. He survived a suicide attack earlier this year which he accused Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf of ordering.
Pakistan was the main backer of the Taliban regime which ruled much of Afghanistan between 1996 until 2001.
It abandoned them under US pressure in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.