KABUL: The Afghan government has started the process of releasing the remaining 400 Taliban inmates to initiate peace talks with the Taliban.
As per details, the Taliban had said that once the prisoners are released they would start peace talks within a week after months of delays since the United States signed a troop withdrawal deal in February.
Earlier, a deal was reached between the United States and the Taliban in which it was agreed that 5,000 Taliban inmates will be freed from Afghan prisons before peace talks between the militant group and the government. The government has so far released 4,600 prisoners.
Afghanistan’s Grand Assembly (Loya Jirga) On August 9 had announced its decision to free Taliban prisoners to remove the last hurdle in intra-Afghan peace talks.
The Loya Jirga, which was attended by more than 3,000 elders, community leaders and politicians, stated that intra-Afghan peace talks should begin immediately.
It said that foreign prisoners, if any, should be handed over to their respective nations after receiving credible guarantees from their governments.
The jirga also decided that the freed prisoners should not return to the battlefield while permanent ceasefire should be imposed.
On August 10, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree to release the final batch of prisoners demanded by the Taliban as a condition to move to peace talks.
On July 31, the Taliban had insisted on the release of those 400 militants. The US-Taliban accord signed in February stipulated Kabul would release 5,000 insurgents in return for 1,000 government forces held captive by the militant group.
The Taliban had claimed they had completed the release of all 1,000 government prisoners. The contentious prisoner swap is a key precondition for peace talks. Both Ghani and the Taliban signaled this week they were ready for talks after Eid, provided the prisoner swap is complete.