Former Taliban commander discusses reintegration
FARAH, Afghanistan (May 12, 2012) — A former Taliban commander met with members of Provincial Reconstruction Team Farah to share his reasons for joining the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program here Saturday.
Mullah Abdul Satar met with U.S. Army Lt. Col. Anthony Ulrich, commander of the PRT Civil Affairs group, to talk about why he made the decision to leave the Taliban. As the unit reintegration representative, Ulrich partners with the Provincial Peace Council and the Provincial Joint Secretariat Team to help provide training and work opportunities to participants of the reintegration program throughout Farah province.
Satar recently joined the reintegration program, according to Ulrich. Less than one month ago his responsibilities as a Taliban commander included receiving and distributing weapons, collecting money from people, and caring for injured Taliban fighters. He committed to the reintegration program after considering it for three months.
“My reason for being in this program is whenever the Taliban were arresting people and beheading them for no good reason, I was totally against it and it wasn’t fair to me,” said Satar. “The second reason is for destroying the clinics and schools, which I am totally against. Caring for my family and having food is the main thing. Program officials kept talking to me and telling me good things.”
“He brought eleven others into the reintegration process with him,” said Ulrich. “It’s important for the government to provide transition assistance so they don’t go back to fighting.” U.S. Navy Cmdr. Thomas Sheppard, commanding officer of PRT Farah, supports the program. “The reintegration program is a key part of the Afghanistan peace process. It gives insurgents an opportunity to honourably renounce violence and reintegrate back into the Afghan society,” said Sheppard.
The PRT’s mission is to support economic development and effective governance at the district, municipal and provincial level in Farah Province in order to enhance the legitimate exercise of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s authority and its ability to provide basic services to the people of Farah.
“The Taliban are getting weak, but their propaganda is still strong,” said Satar. “They are ten, and say they are one hundred.
“We were permitted to do anything to achieve our mission, even using women and children as shields. I asked the other Taliban ‘What are we doing?’, because whatever they are doing it’s not for the Afghan people. They went to a civilian home, they shoot people, they beat the children or the woman, and they strip everything looking around for weapons for the Talban. They beat the children if they need any information from them. To me, this is not fair. It’s not for the Afghan people. Going back to the Taliban is out of the question, if I go back, they will kill me. At least I am here now in the government. I’m not doing anything bad. I’m not doing any harm and I feel good, because if I am not making any damage to the people, that’s good for me.
“I want to be very helpful to the government. I want to cure the damages I have done to the people. I want to educate my children because I have been fighting for the past 30 years and look at me, I’ve got nothing. I want my children to be educated to have a better life.”