Karzai plans to woo Taliban with ‘land, work and pensions’


By Julian Borger in Lashkar Gah  The Guardian

Afghanistan‘s president will unveil a plan in the next eight days to offer work, education, pensions and land to Taliban fighters who lay down their weapons.

Hamid Karzai intends to launch the reconciliation and reintegration plan at the start of next week’s London conference on Afghanistan, although he is under pressure to announce the details earlier to help build international support.

The Afghan president has also pledged to hold a new peace conference, a loya jirga, in the spring, restating a standing invitation to insurgents ready to swear an oath to the country’s constitution.

David Miliband promised the initiative would have international backing.

“We are looking for a lead from the Afghans about the sort of institutional mechanism they want to pursue, but I’m also in close discussion with colleagues around the world about how we can make sure that there is a viable reintegration plan,” the foreign secretary told the Guardian during a visit to Afghanistan to prepare for the conference.

Kabul has a longstanding policy of offering to help resettle Taliban followers who defect. But the programme has been poorly funded and patchily implemented. It has failed to persuade large numbers of fighters to lay down their arms.

Afghan officials say the Kabul government has learned from earlier mistakes and promise that the plan will be far more comprehensive, offering in some cases, a totally new life to the Taliban.

Read more at The Guardian

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