Afghan Government Postpones Release of Taliban Prisoners

  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had promised to release the prisoners on March 14 as a goodwill gesture.
  • The agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban in Doha on February 29 was regarded as a milestone for the end of the nineteen-year-old Afghan war.
  • US military commander in the Middle East, Frank McKenzie, expressed skepticism, and said he did not think the Taliban would fulfill their promises.

The Afghan government has postponed the release of 1,500 Taliban prisoners, which could sabotage the peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Doha last month. According to Javed Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan National Security Office, a review of the list of prisoners is delaying the release of Taliban fighters.

Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai is an Afghan politician and current president of Afghanistan, elected on 21 September 2014. An anthropologist by education, he previously served as finance minister and the chancellor of Kabul University.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had promised to release the prisoners on March 14 as a goodwill gesture so that inter-Afghan talks could begin.

No Response Received by Taliban

Earlier, in Doha, the Taliban had handed over a list of 5,000 of its fighters to an American negotiator who handed it over to the Afghan government. An important precondition for achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan under the Doha Agreement is the demand for the release of over 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as well as 1,000 Afghan government prisoners, before the Intra-Afghan dialogue.

According to President Ghani, 100 prisoners were to be released daily from Saturday to the next day, while the release of another 3,500 prisoners is subject to progress in interfaith talks and a reduction in violent operations.

The agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban in Doha on February 29 was regarded as a milestone for the end of the nineteen-year-old Afghan war. Under the deal, the US will reduce its 13,000 troops from the mainland to 8,600 in the first phase. If the Taliban keep their promises of not providing a safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan, according to the agreement, Washington will have 14 months.

The Taliban, who refer to themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), are a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement and military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country. Since 2016, the Taliban’s leader is Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada.

The United States had a resolution at the UN Security Council on a peace agreement recently signed between the Washington administration and the Taliban, which all members unanimously supported. The Taliban in Afghanistan have been fighting the US and Afghan security forces for the past eighteen years, and the United States wants to end the war with this agreement. In the US resolution presented to the Security Council, “important steps such as ending the war and paving the way for internal Afghanistan dialogue are welcomed.”

The peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban is intended to pave the way for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and establish peace in the country, but despite some government-level measures, the political situation in Afghanistan is still tense.

The resolution calls on the Afghan government to advance the peace process and called for “comprehensive international dialogue, which should include political leaders, civil society activists, and women.” In this resolution, members of the Security Council have particularly emphasized the protection of women’s rights. In the past, the Taliban had imposed restrictions on the education and employment of women and girls.

However, US military commander in the Middle East, Frank McKenzie, expressed skepticism, and said he did not think the Taliban would fulfill their promises. Talking to members of the US Congress, he said, “at present, the Taliban attacks are far beyond our expectations.”

The UN Security Council ratified the peace agreement at a time when the struggle to stabilize the political situation in Afghanistan continues. Two days ago, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah took the oath of office at two different events. Both claimed their victory in last year’s presidential election.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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