Rival warlords support disarmament in Afghanistan: UN
KABUL: The principal warlords in northern Afghanistan on Sunday traveled to a district wracked by factional fighting and encouraged their supporters to give up their weapons, a UN official said.
Afghanistan is awash with weapons after two decades of war, and disarming the feuding factions in the north could be a key to bringing peace to the country.
The latest disarmament campaign began last week in the Sholgara district of Balkh province - the scene of several battles in the past two years between ethnic Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum and his Tajik rival Atta Mohammed.
Both warlords went to the province Sunday to support the program, said Manoel de Almeida e Silva, spokesman for the UN mission in Kabul.
They were joined by Mohammad Sardar Sayedi of Hezb-e-Wahadat, a group of the Hazara Shiite Muslim minority - the third major faction in the region.
A security commission representing all three factions has collected 112 light weapons, mortars and heavy machine guns, the UN spokesman said. The three leaders would today “help prompt collection of additional weapons that are being withheld,” he told reporters.
Sayeed Noor Ullah, Dostum’s political adviser, said the disarmament program in Sholgara district could be extended to other districts in the province.
The disarmament, which began last Saturday, is being monitored by the UN and coalition soldiers deployed in the province.
But it is not part of a much larger, long-delayed UN plan to disarm the huge private armies of warlords that control most of Afghanistan.
That campaign was due to start July 1, but the UN is still waiting for the government to first implement sensitive reforms to the Defence Ministry, controlled by ethnic Tajiks and led by the Defence Minister Mohammed Fahim.
Meanwhile, the UN spokesman announced that Dostum and Atta Mohammed’s factions had set up a peace commission in northwestern Faryab province that would meet weekly “to resolve issues that can degenerate into fighting.” —AP