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From: 2010-05-17 12:51:46

KABUL – Small pockets of Taliban foot soldiers ready to switch sides are waiting for the Afghan government to roll out a nationwide program to lure them off the battlefield and make peace with their leaders.
The plan won't be completed until after this month's peace assembly in Kabul, but according to a 36-page draft, it would attract low- to midlevel fighters with promises of jobs, literacy and vocational training plus development aid for their villages.
Reaching out to top Taliban leaders would be done through political channels, perhaps by striking them off the U.N. sanctions list or granting a few exile to another nation, according to the draft, obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
The Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Program, backed by a trust fund soon to be flush with $160 million in pledges from the U.S., Japan, Britain and other nations, has been in the works for months. It is a topic of talks Afghan President Hamid Karzai is having in Washington this week with President Barack Obama.
A successful political resolution to the nearly 9-year war is key to any U.S. exit strategy, and Pakistan and other neighboring nations have a stake in any design of a post-conflict Afghanistan.
Reintegration is "more than just a few mullahs changing sides," Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a top Karzai adviser who is crafting the reintegration program, said before leaving for Washington.


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