It drives me mad that I cannot put a link up on this article unless anyone else has a subscription to the Times Online. *but I would encourage everyone to buy a copy of the Sunday Times tomorrow (today, as its past midnight actually) to cut out and keep the article entitled*
Updated 29th November 2010: In my enthusiasm for this article I failed to realise, somewhat dimly, that the article is actually from last week's Sunday Times. For subscribers, the link is here: Love drives repentant Taliban chief to defect.
For those who do not have a subscription, I'd like to quote a couple paragraphs (seeing as the paper wasn't yesterday but a week ago) in what I'm afraid may be a heinous transgression of copyright law, but all credit goes to Miles Amoore for his article, and I really do want to share his words with my readers:
"Ultimately, [Abdul Hakim] says, it was his desire to marry his fiancée that compelled him to lay down his weapons. The prospective father-in-law told Haqim that he would never give his daughter’s hand to a fighter because he did not want to see her widowed. “It was an easy choice for me,” he said. Haqim is not the only fighter from Wardak to come in from the cold. Habib Rahman, a 32-year-old sub-district commander from Jilga district, has also made peace overtures to the government.
Rahman joined the Taliban five years after the US-led invasion in 2001. His father was killed in the American bombing campaign that helped to bring the former Taliban regime to its knees. “I was sickened by the killing of innocent civilians,” he said. “I couldn’t return to see my family because I would put them in danger. Living in the mountains is no fun." ~ Miles Amoore, The Sunday Times, 21st November 2010
This is a wonderfully written and spirited reporting of recent stories of Taliban commanders who have chosen to lay down their arms and join a movement called the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme, in order to reconstruct their own family lives and promote peace for the Afghan civilians. The programme is still in its infancy but is well on its way to growth.
These kinds of heart-warming stories are what we need to remind ourselves of when we become cynical of the endless rage in the Middle East, when success seems far from possibility.
I applaud Miles Amoore for his poignant and inspiring reporting, and I do hope everyone reads the article to push for peace in the Middle East. A wonderful article that reminds us that humanity is still alive in the stricken war zones and, clearly, even in the armies of those our soldiers fight against.
And that's something we often forget; that its not just a faceless mob of evil beings we face, but vulnerable individuals who have been driven to violence or revenge by those who saw an opportunity to corrupt. A certain Quaker friend of mine (you find all sorts at boarding school) once quoted Natalie Imbruglia: "brother shoots brother; meanwhile you're fixing up your face". Its hard to remind ourselves of what terrors are happening elsewhere in the world when we are living in such comfortable environments.