According to a United Nations Development Programme for Afghanistan report on Thursday, the New Beginning initiative has virtually ground to a halt.

The government had set its heart on collecting 100,000 weapons, but six months later it can only account for 4600.

In the provinces of Herat, Mazar-i Sharif and Kunduz, the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration initiative (DDR) is facing lack of "necessary cooperation and support". 

A district governor's HQ after a
Taliban raid

The initiative was not just aimed at gun control - it was to provide hygiene, small-scale farming and nutrition courses to struggling Afghan families.

The report said: "Nearly 50% of the vocational training beneficiaries have not been able to acquire the necessary skills provided.

"As a result, the private company owners are indicating their reluctance to start paying their salaries for the remaining six months."

Reason for failure

Kandahar was the first province to reject trading-in its weapons because of a genuine fear that such a programme would help create a "security vacuum".

The province has been witnessing intense military action by "cross-border Pakistani elements of Taliban and al-Qaida", says Yusif Pashtun, the governor of Kandahar.

In the absence of a capable national army and police force to combat the Taliban presence, the government is heavily reliant on local militia, which it should technically want to disarm.

But the threat to security does not always come from the Taliban, says DDR press officer Ahmad Jon.

Disunity

"Last month's fighting in Herat, Maimana and Mazar-i Sharif in the west and north of the country was between government commanders. It had nothing to do with Taliban or al-Qaida."

The governor is losing the
backing of tribal leaders

And Pashtun does not have only Taliban and al-Qaida on his list of worries.

Earlier, a row with Haji Agha Lalay, the tribal chief of southwestern Kandahar in Panjwahe district, resulted in tribesman calling for the governor's sacking.

In return, the governor accused the local council of supporting the Taliban. In the midst of such tension, Taliban attacks are coming in thick and fast.

No security

Earlier in the week, one attack destroyed the offices of the district governor of Shah Wali Kout 20km north of Kandahar.

The attack left five government militiamen dead, including the district governor's deputy and his security chief. Unofficial local hospital reports put government losses much higher.

The interim government is placed between a rock and a hard place, unable to differentiate between its enemies and civilians. The Taliban just blend with society.

Election concerns 

As the already postponed elections draw closer, Kabul is finding it increasingly difficult to juggle with disarmament, security, development, the war on drugs, returning refugees, internally displaced people and economic development - as well as neighbourly relations and fundraising.

It is virtually impossible for
officials to identify the Taliban

In the face of a deteriorating security situation, the government also appears to be running out of ideas.

Many doubt that governor Pashtun even believes himself when he claims the Taliban can be dealt with in one or two months with Pakistani help.

Meanwhile, with less than a few months left for the elections and just over 1.5 million registered out of a possible ten million prospective voters, Kabul's Joint Electoral Management Body revealed police recently arrested the first man to be caught with two voter registration cards.