Afghanistan on Sunday agreed to release 400 “hardline” Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.
Under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s election year, the war-torn country’s grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, approved the release on Sunday in a bid to allow US troops to return home. There is a controversial situation that was raised by the militants to join the peace talks.
“To remove any impediment, allow the peace process to begin and end the bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approved the release of 400 Taliban,” the assembly said in a resolution.
Minutes later, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced: “Today, I will sign the order for the release of these 400 prisoners.”
Last week, Ghani invited about 3,200 Afghan community leaders and politicians to Kabul amid tight security and concerns about the Kovid 19 epidemic, advising the government on whether to release prisoners.
The 400 include Taliban members accused of major attacks on civilians and foreigners, including a truck bombing near the German embassy in Kabul in 2017 that killed more than 150 people in the 19-year insurgency. Was the deadliest attack. The group also includes members of the extremist Haqqani Network, which has ties to the Taliban, according to the Taliban and official sources.
With the release, the Afghan government will fulfill its commitment to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
Western diplomats say talks between the militants and the government will begin this week in Doha, Qatar. Ghani called on the hardline Islamist group to pledge a complete ceasefire before negotiations.
The Taliban have not commented on the decision to release the remaining prisoners.
Discussions over the release of the last batch of Taliban prisoners sparked outrage among citizens and rights groups, who questioned the ethics of the peace process.
It has thought of more than 100,000 Afghans killed or injured in the past decade, up from 10,000 last year alone. The Loya Jirga had appealed to the government to apologize to the families for their killers, which is important under various interpretations of Islamic law.
Sunday’s decision comes after more than five months of negotiations after Washington and the Taliban agreed to release Taliban prisoners as a condition for talks with Kabul.
U.S. officials have in recent days encouraged the Loya Jirga to move the peace process forward, to support the release of prisoners despite the setbacks.
Neighboring Pakistan, which is seen as the key to helping pave the way for talks, welcomed Sunday’s decision.
The Pakistani Foreign Office said in a statement: “We hope that with the implementation of this move on the release of prisoners, as expected in the US-Taliban peace agreement, intra-Afghan talks will begin soon.” Will. “
Human Rights Watch has warned that many detainees are being held in prisons under “broader terrorism laws that provide for indefinite detention.”
With the November election looming, Trump is desperate to live up to the promise of a major campaign to end America’s longest-running war.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Asper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday that the number of US troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to “less than 5,000” by the end of November, from the current level of 8,600. ۔
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