The Afghan government has suspended the release of the last batch of Taliban inmates over their involvement in serious crimes, local media reported on Tuesday.
“The Afghan government on Monday once again stated its firm stance of not releasing nearly 600 Taliban prisoners who are reportedly guilty of serious crimes beyond membership in the Taliban,” Tolo News TV said.
In early March, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release 5,000 Taliban inmates on parole, and the Taliban agreed to release 1,000 soldiers but the exchange of prisoners was repeatedly delayed.
The exchange of prisoners is part of a peace deal inked between the Taliban and the United States in Qatar in February. However, the Afghan government was not a signatory of the deal.
According to the agreement, the exchange of prisoners had to take place in early March before the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks involving Taliban delegation and government representatives.So far, more than 4,000 Taliban prisoners and over 500 Afghan security forces had been released.The two sides were agreed to kick start the intra-Afghan talks in Qatar shortly after the release of the prisoners.
Local experts believe that the latest suspension of Taliban inmate’s release may delay the Taliban and government peace negotiations.Under the agreement, about 10,000 U.S. and NATO-led coalition forces would leave Afghanistan by July next year depending on whether the Taliban meet the conditions envisaged in the agreement, including severing ties with foreign terrorist groups.
On Monday, the Afghan president inaugurated a consultative regional meeting via a video conference under the theme of “support of consensus for peace” and discussed the peace process with the delegations of 20 countries, Afghan strategic partners and the United Nations, according to the country’s presidential palace. “We all are facing terrorism threats, and danger from regional criminal networks and extremism.
Security, stability and interest connect us with each other. Regional understanding also makes us stay alongside each other, and as a regional cross, Afghanistan can play a significant role for the stability and prosperity of the region,” President Ghani told the participants via video conference.
The president noted that “our perspective is that Afghanistan should remain the center for stability and regional development and growth crossroad.
“Touching on threats and dangers against peace, the president noted that the peace process would face serious challenges if the Taliban militants persist in war and continue to fight with the Afghan security forces.
President Ghani regretted over the growing violence and said the level of the current violence was higher compared to last year.
The UN reports suggested that the Taliban were yet to fulfill their promises and still have links with some foreign terrorist networks, he said.
The Taliban should consider a reduction in violence after the peace deal but contrary to the Afghans’ desire, the Taliban have increased violence and conducted violent attacks all over the country within the past four months, Ghani noted.
“We have taken great steps in order to help the Taliban give up violence, release our prisoners and they should remain committed to direct peace talks.
They must observe humanitarian ceasefire to help us fight COVID-19 well, but regretfully, violence increased against the people of Afghanistan,” Ghani said.
President Ghani added that the international consensus for ending war exists and the regional and neighboring countries’ support for strong regional consensus would help Afghanistan to reach peace and stability.