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US report urges reintegration of Taliban fighters into Afghan society

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WASHINGTON: A failure to reintegrate Taliban fighters and their families into Afghan society could undermine any peace agreement that the United States and the militants might conclude, warns an official US report to Congress.

In its annual report to Congress, office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) identifies three risks that might persist after a peace settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government or arise out of such a deal.

 

“A failure to successfully reintegrate Taliban fighters and their families into Afghan society, a failure to improve civil policing, and a failure to ensure effective oversight of continuing foreign financial assistance could each undermine the sustainability of any peace agreement that might be reached,” SIGAR chief John Sopko warned in the annual report.

Since 2014, SIGAR has developed a “high-risk list” for each new Congress outlining the threats to US investment in Afghanistan, such as widespread insecurity, corruption and the illegal drug trade.

The 2019 report focuses on the risks that might persist or arise in the event of a peace settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The US and Taliban are holding talks in Doha, Qatar.

The report identifies eight high-risk areas capable of hampering US-funded efforts for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, which was delivered to Congress and the secretaries of state and defence this week.

“Peace would be welcome news,” the report said. “But a peace settlement could also bring its own set of challenges to sustaining what has been achieved since 2001 in one of the world’s most isolated, impoverished, and conflict-plagued countries.”

The report warns that reintegrating anti-government fighters into Afghan society and a continuing sluggish economy are two other challenges that could undermine US reconstruction efforts after Taliban reconciliation with Kabul.