All Round View(Peshawar): As the Afghan peace process entered a second phase, a discussion on the agendas to kick start the intra-Afghan talks, the Taliban group is now seeking the release of their more prisoners from the Afghan custody.
The government of Afghanistan has rejected a new demand offered by the Taliban over the release of their extra 7,000 comrades held in government custody, with the National Security Council saying on Tuesday that the release would not help the ongoing peace process as 5,500 insurgents’ freedom did not help it.
To move the talks forward, the government freed over 5,000 Taliban prisoners. It was a prerequisite for the start of peace negotiations. The tough, but the important decision was made only for the sake of peace. However, now the Taliban are expecting another 7,000 to be released by mid-December.
“The specific provision relating to another 7,000 Taliban prisoners is contained in the US-Taliban agreement,” said the US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson.
He underlined the importance of the US-Taliban peace deal which was signed on February 29th in the Qatari capital, Doha. “All of the various parts of the US-Taliban agreement are interlocked with one another, intersect with one another and that you can’t just take out one and say this one has to be adhered to without other aspects being adhered to,” Wilson added.
To keep the negotiation moving, Wilson said that the US strongly sought consensus among the leaders of Afghanistan that can help in making tough decisions. “(Consensus which) give clear direction to the negotiating team in Doha and do it in a way that reflects the national interests as opposed to a narrow political interest, or a narrow ethnic interest or some other narrow set of concerns.”
The remarks by a top US diplomat comes as the negotiation teams of the government and Taliban held their second meeting to discuss the agendas of the intra-Afghan negotiations. As the peace negotiations are moving forward, the secret deals made behind the curtains between the US and Taliban in the absence of the Afghan government is gradually divulging.
When the US-Taliban was in the brink of a preliminary peace deal, there was no sign about the release of the 5,000 Taliban in exchange for the 1,000 Afghan security forces. The prisoner swap process that has faced widespread criticism by the Afghan mass, was enforced on the Afghan government by the US to lay out the American soldiers withdrawal from Afghanistan and as well as the intra-Afghan negotiations. According to the Afghan officials, many of these prisoners rejoined the insurgency with most of them being killed in a direct fight with the Afghan security forces.
The Afghan people are in a vague condition, where they don’t know what exactly is waiting for them. Will the current peace talks eventually lead to durable peace and stability, a peace yearning that the Afghan people are dreaming for over four decades. Anyways, the Afghans are traumatized, exhausted and fade up with the 40 years of conflict, thus they are perhaps ready to pay great sacrifices to put an end to unlawful civilian killings.
“The prisoner release is not an Afghan demand. When the government released Taliban prisoners, people criticized because the Taliban did not remain adherent to their commitments over the reduction of violence and a cease-fire. Therefore, the release of more Taliban prisoners will not be useful for the peace process,” the NSC Spokesman Rahmatullah Andar said.
The release of Taliban prisoners was demanded by the US charged affairs in Kabul Ross Wilson.
Taliban officials in Qatar called for the release of their 7,000 prisoners in a meeting with the US envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad on Saturday in Doha. No details were released about the meeting.
Earlier, President Ghani was forced to release 5,500 Taliban prisoners as it was the main point of the insurgents’ peace deal with the United States signed in February and a Loya Jirga asked Ghani to release them to pave the ground for peace.
Taliban in return had vowed to reduce violence against Afghan forces and civilians. Bu the promise was not fulfilled and people in Kabul and other big cities witnessed almost unprecedented attacks in the summer and autumn, especially since the intra-Afghan negotiations began in September.
Taliban were blamed by the international community with the United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and NATO calling on the insurgent group to stay committed in their obligation and reduce violence.
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