Peter Hoskin

Money talks in Afghanistan

Money talks in Afghanistan
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Afghan politics stinks; we all know it.  But it's still shocking to read how the former governor of Helmand, Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, encouraged his supporters to join the Taliban after he lost his position, in 2005, under a cloud of drug-running allegations.  Here's what he tells today's Telegraph:  

"When I was no longer governor the government stopped paying for the people who supported me ....  I sent 3,000 of them off to the Taliban because I could not afford to support them but the Taliban was making payments.

Lots of people, including my family members, went back to the Taliban because they had lost respect for the government. The British bore the brunt of this because the Taliban became the defenders of Helmand, where the local tradition doesn't allow foreigners to go into people's homes."

The latest rumours are that Hamid Karzai is going to reinstate Akhundzada, now a Senator, as a reward for supporting him during August's presidential elections.  It's dispiriting, to say the least.  But it's probably also testament to the trickiness of any solution in Afghanistan, that keeping dubious folk like Akhundzada on side may be preferable to the alternative.