ToI feed, dated 23 July 2007.
UK fails to woo Taliban with £1.5m bribe
Money Offered To End Afghan Strife
Britain has spent more than £1.5 million in Afghanistan this year on a controversial scheme to bribe members of the Taliban to lay down their arms, even though it has failed to persuade any significant figures to defect.
The money was allocated in January and May after the killings of two top commanders, Mullah Osmani and Mullah Dadullah, and the arrest of Mullah Obaidullah, all members of the Taliban’s ruling shura, or council.
British officials expected this would lead to a dip in Taliban morale and encourage less extremist members to cross over, fearing that they were on the losing side — the so-called “Dadullah effect”.
Instead, heavy fighting has continued in the southern province of Helmand, where British forces have suffered 23 deaths so far this year. The only Taliban who have defected have mostly been foot soldiers,
of whom there seems to be an unlimited supply, both from the madrasaas in Pakistan and among disillusioned Afghans.
“It hasn’t had the results we’d hoped,” admitted a senior Foreign Office official, “though not for want of effort on our part.”
The news comes as David Miliband, the foreign secretary, prepares to fly to Afghanistan and Pakistan this week for his first key trip in his new post.
Afghanistan has been chosen to show the commitment of Gordon Brown’s government to what it still regards as “a winnable war”, and to try to persuade Nato allies to step up their contributions.
Britain has 7,100 troops in Afghanistan — more than in Iraq — and officials no longer talk of withdrawal dates. The British ambassador to Kabul said recently that the country may take 30 years to stabilise. Senior military figures have been warning that Afghanistan could end up worse than Iraq.
Lord Inge, former chief of the defence staff, told the House of Lords this month that it was time “to face up to the consequence of strategic failure in Afghanistan and what that would mean for Nato”.
Last week a report by the Commons defence committee painted an alarming picture of spreading insurgency, insufficient troops and helicopters and confusion over strategy.
“The idea was to shake people up,” said James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the committee. “The international community as a whole is looking at Afghanistan as if a curious mime is being carried out that has no bearing on their lives.” He added: “If Nato can’t patrol the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan ... the insurgents will come one way and drugs the other.” SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON
Body of German hostage found
The body of one of two Germans kidnapped in southern Afghanistan was found on Sunday, a provincial police chief said. Police recovered the body of the man, who was abducted on Wednesday in the Jaghato district of southern Wardak province, provincial police chief Hewas Mohammad Muslim said. Taliban militants had claimed to have shot dead both of the Germans after Kabul and Berlin failed to contact the rebels for talks. AFP