Press TV, Kabul
March 12, 2020
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has approved the release of hundreds of Taliban prisoners as part of efforts to pave the way for the start of talks with the militant group.
According to a decree signed by Ghani, 500 prisoners would be released within 15 days starting on Saturday, with 100 prisoners walking out of Afghan jails every day.
Afghan officials say once direct talks between the Taliban and Kabul began, the Afghan government would free 500 prisoners every two weeks until a total of 3,500 were released.
Dissatisfied with the move, the Taliban said the plan to stagger the release of Taliban prisoners violated an accord they struck with the United States and they would not talk with the Afghan government until all 5,000 prisoners were freed.
The move has also sparked mixed reactions inside Afghanistan. Rights bodies such as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) expressed concerns over the plan, saying the major achievements of the Afghan people must not be sacrificed under peace negotiations.
In the meantime, some here describe the move as a critical attempt by the Afghan government, arguing that such a move will create further political instability in the country in case Kabul fails to properly manage and control it.
A February 29 pact between the Taliban and the US has cleared with way for the withdrawal of foreign forces after more than 18 years of war, but peace has to be negotiated between the militants and Afghanistan government. The Taliban have promised to open talks with the government as part of the accord but say the release of their 5,000 comrades held by the government was also part of the deal, and they won’t talk until all are freed.
The approval of the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners comes as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had earlier named it a red line for the Afghan government .Now the significant change in Ghani’s stance has created doubts among rural Afghans about the future of their country.