GHŌR, Afghanistan (May 28, 2012) – Former Taliban fighters hold rifles as they prepare to hand them over to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan during a reintegration ceremony at the provincial governor's compound. The re-integrees formally announced their agreement to join the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program during the ceremony. (Department of Defense photograph by Lt. j. g. Joe Painter/RELEASED)
GHŌR, Afghanistan — A former Taliban fighter who officially renounced his armed struggle in Chaghcharan district May 28 said his reasoning for leaving the battlefield was because he was tired of fighting.
The former Taliban fighter, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the insurgency, officially joined the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program during a ceremony at the governor's compound.
British Maj. Gen. David Hook, Director of the International Security Assistance Force's reintegration cell, attended the ceremony and noted that one of the reasons the nearly 4,600 re-integrees have given for joining APRP is they are worn-out on the battlefield because of the unrelenting military pressure being exerted on them by the Afghanistan National Security Force and ISAF.
The APRP is an Afghan Government peace program designed, implemented, and executed by Afghans to provide a way for insurgents who want to stop fighting and rejoin their communities with honor and dignity.
Four Taliban commanders, Mawlawi Ahmad Shah, Mawlawi Abdul Karim, Habillah and Mawlawi Ahmad, and nearly 120 of their men committed to renounce violence, sever all ties with the insurgency, and abide by the constitution of Afghanistan.
Mawlawi Ahmad Shah spoke on behalf of the former insurgents and said all those still fighting should renounce violence and join the peace process. "I urge you to lay down your weapons and try to live a peaceful and normal life,” said Shah.
During Shah's speech at the ceremony he thanked the High Peace Council members and the Afghan National Army for their guidance and support through their transition from the battlefield back to their communities.
The re-integrees turned in their heavy weapons including rocket launchers, machine guns and various types of unexploded ordnance routinely used for improvised explosive devices as a sign of their commitment to peace and rebuilding in Afghanistan.
Another re-integree who attended the ceremony said that while he was still opposed to the presence of international forces in his country his decision to join the APRP was based on the timetable for the drawdown of NATO forces by 2014.
"Now that Islamic and un-Islamic countries are standing by us, we should take advantage of this opportunity and build our country,” said Aziz Ahmadzai, Director of Operations for the Joint Secretariat. "We are one of the most fortunate nations to have this opportunity.”
Dr Abdullah Haiwad, Ghōr's provincial governor, presented the re-integrees with a copy of the Quran and traditional chapan coats as they handed over their weapons.
Internationally funded, the APRP is supported through donations from 12 nations including: Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, UK, Australia, Finland, Estonia, South Korea , and the United States. Japan is the APRP's largest donor giving $52 million in 2012.
By Lt. j. g. Joe Painter
ISAF Public Affairs