Afghan war: What some local officials are willing to do for peace
Some local Afghan officials are hoping to end the decade-long Afghan war by negotiating with the Taliban – province by province.
After spending most of his life as a fighter – first as a mujadhideen during the Soviet invasion and most recently as a general in the Afghan Army during the current war – Atiqullah Ludin is among a growing group of local leaders who say they no longer believe fighting will bring peace.Skip to next paragraph
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So Mr. Ludin, who is now the governor of Logar Province, helped launch an effort to end the violence in his increasingly troubled province by starting independent, direct negotiations with insurgents in his area.
“I can’t just watch my people get hurt by the insecurity, so I started these talks,” says Ludin, whose predecessor, Abdullah Wardak was assassinated in 2008 by the Taliban. “I fought with the Taliban a lot [before I was governor], so now I’ve changed my thinking and started working for peace. I don’t want to fight anymore.”
Throughout Afghanistan a number of local government officials like Ludin have begun looking for ways to convince insurgents to put down their guns and support the government. Although they’re not authorized to make any official compromises or deals with the Taliban, officials in Kabul hope this local effort to end violence in the provinces will pave the way for larger talks.
“Since this process of reconciliation has started under the High Peace Council everyone in the provinces, whether a governor or a tribal elder, is advised to help us in this process,” says Haji Musa Hotec, a member of the High Peace Council, which was formed by President Hamid Karzai last year to facilitate negotiations. “They’re just inviting them to join the government and come home."
Situated directly to the south of Kabul, Logar’s proximity to the capital makes it a strategically critical province. If security continues to deteriorate there the ripple effect will likely be felt far beyond its borders.
Since this spring there has been about one beheading per month in Logar, along with a number of other violent attacks. One of the most recent incidents took place a little more than a month ago when insurgents beheaded two people and shot another two inside the provincial capital of Pul-i-Alam.
About two weeks ago, three Afghan soldiers were kidnapped within about a mile of the provincial police headquarters. Two were killed and the third is still being held hostage.