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Taleban Remnants Disarm


Abdul Salam was a senior Taleban commander in Jalalabad before his capture by U.S.-led coalition forces in 2001. He is known as "Mullah Rockety" because of his rocket-grenade attacks on Soviet troops during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Mr. Salam is now a supporter of the elected government of President Hamid Karzai.

"The Taleban has lost its morale," says Mr. Salam. He says that if the Taleban "believe they will be secure and safe, they will come down from the mountains." Mr. Salam has a message for the remaining insurgents. "Now is the time for unity," he says, "the time for Afghan brother to stop killing Afghan brother."

Under an Afghan government initiative, Taleban who are not associated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and who have not committed atrocities will be allowed to return to their homes. But they must renounce violence and pledge to support the Afghan government. Jawed Ludin, a spokesman for President Karzai, said the offer "is not a blanket amnesty to people for crimes they have committed."

Several senior officials of the ousted Taleban regime have accepted the amnesty. They include Abdul Hakim Mujahid, former envoy to the United Nations; Arsallah Rahmani, former deputy minister of education; Rahmatullah Wahidyar, former deputy minister of refugees; and Fawzi, who has served as an official of the Afghan embassies in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Mullah Khaksar Akhhund, former Taleban deputy interior minister, said the program "is a very good step for the people of Afghanistan."

Dozens of rank-and-file Taleban have also accepted the amnesty. Many more are expected to do so. "The majority of the Taleban are tired," said one former insurgent who has returned to his home. "If there are proper talks with the government," he said, "most will give up their weapons."

The overwhelming majority of Afghans have rejected the Taleban's extremism and violence in favor of a democratic system of government. Afghans will go to the polls in September to choose a parliament. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the U.S. will remain committed to Afghan democracy:

"We will stand by the Afghan people as they go through the next phase of their democratic development, the parliamentary elections that will take place this fall."

Ms. Rice said it is important to remember that "it takes time to build" democratic institutions.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.

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