A controversial, opaque US defense initiative to make payments to Taliban fighters who renounce violence has been extended until September 2012. While a large, but unspecified amount of funding is devoted to the program, no one appears to be keeping track of how the money is being spent.
A portion of the funds for the program, which is designed to draw off non-ideological elements from the Taliban, comes from the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP). An additional $50 million is set aside separately under Section 1216 of the 2011 defense budget to assist “low level Taliban” reintegration into Afghan society.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in central Asian affairs.