The much-vaunted “reintegration” of the Taliban, which Britain has funded with £7 million, is not quite what it seems, writes Ben Farmer in Kabul.
Wrapped in shawls against the cold, some with scarves to hide their faces, the men stand in front of a table bearing an arsenal of assault rifles and rockets. As the insurgents renounce their armed struggle and declare they have made peace with Hamid Karzai’s government, local journalists film the ceremony for the evening television. Such scenes are now a common feature of Afghan news bulletins and portray one of the main pillars of Nato’s strategy to overpower the Taliban and force them to the negotiating table prior to the planned exit by US and British forces. However, The Sunday Telegraph has discovered disturbing evidence that all is not as it seems.
New figures have now shown that over the last 18 months the “reintegration” scheme which Britain has funded with £7 million has attracted only 19 militants in Helmand province, where British troops are fighting.