Former Afghan senator joins Taliban

Sept. 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM

SAR-E POL, Afghanistan, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- The Taliban welcomed a move by a former provincial governor in Afghanistan to switch sides though a district leader downplayed the defection's significance.

Former Sar-e Pol provincial Sen. Qazi Abdul Hai served four years as a provincial chief starting in 2004. Abdul Ghafore Dastyaar, a deputy provincial governor, told the BBC the former senator defected but downplayed its significance.

"His defection does not have any impact on his people in the district, because he was not a very influential person," he said in a statement Thursday to the BBC.

The Taliban declared victory with the defection, saying it was a sign of their growing influence in northern Afghanistan.

Sar-e Pol, along with much of the Afghan north, has been relatively shielded from most of the violence in the country.

The BBC said the senator appears in a video posted on a Taliban website saying he's a former freedom fighter who witnessed "the corrupt face of the government" during his tenure.

International forces operating in Afghanistan are looking to wrap up their combat obligations next year as national forces take control.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Related UPI Stories
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
North Korea officials defecting in fear of rising executions
North Korea: Airport terminal is 'new face' of country
Compact cannon for British armored vehicles
Texas AG Ken Paxton facing first-degree felony fraud charges
Russia says published U.S. military plan is 'confrontational,' lacks objectivity