KABUL (TOLO News): Parents of two slain army soldiers said they are against the release of Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government.
At the end of February, the US and Taliban signed a peace deal that included the planned release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners held by the government, and the release of 1,000 Afghan security force members held by the Taliban. This swap was intended as a confidence-building measure to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks.
The Afghan government was not a party to the deal, although on the same day of the signing it made a joint declaration with the US and NATO officials in Kabul that publically aligned the government with the US-Taliban roadmap towards peace.
The process was delayed, however, as President Ghani at first balked at releasing large quantities of Taliban prisoners without certain conditions being met, prefering instead to release the prisoners during the intra-Afghan talks–not before. The US-Taliban deal had stated a March deadline for the full release of prisoners, which would precede the intra-Afghan talks, but Ghani insisted that he was not a signatory to the deal.
Prisoner releases, however, have since begun on both sides, and have been carried out in tranches, with technical teams from both the Taliban and Afghan government meeting to negotiate and to work out practical details.
However, having released 1,000 prisoners so far, the Afghan government has declared they are suspending the process, saying that the Taliban is unwilling to release their agreed-upon number of security force members from detainment.
The parents of the soldiers – Mohammad Yusuf and Abdul Khalil – said they lost their two sons in a Taliban attack in Farah on one day, leaving the couple and other family members “to starve,” as their sons were the only breadwinners for the 18-member family.
“Two bodies were brought to our home, but the government never remembered us. I call on the government to not imprison Taliban when they are arrested; it should kill them and they should not be left alive. What was the sin of our children?” said Jamila, mother of the soldiers.
“I call on the president and the defense minister to prosecute the Taliban same as they killed our sons… they should not be released. They should be kept in prison,” said Abdul Halim, the father of the soldiers who is now taking care of the family.
The Defense Ministry said all families of fallen soldiers will be supported.
“The Ministry of Defense has launched a big program for helping the martyred army families during Ramadhan and during the lockdown days,” said Fawad Aman, a spokesman for the ministry.
Some Herat residents said they are also against the release of Taliban prisoners, adding that if this process continues, it will be a disgrace to the sacrifices of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.
“Taliban and Daesh are committing crimes and they are killing the people but they are released after a while and are returning to the battlefield,” Herat resident Basira Taheri claimed.
“It has been proved to all that the Taliban does not have a commitment towards the people of Afghanistan and we are never in favor of the release of their prisoners,” said Zhala Hakak, a Herat resident.