KABUL (Tolo News): The State Ministry on Peace Affairs called on the Taliban to reduce violence to help complete the process of the prisoner swap and to help kick start the intra-Afghan talks.
“Our expectation and the expectation of the Afghan people is that the Taliban get ready for the start of intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible and create conditions for trust by halting violence and with the complete release of all hostages from the Afghan security and defense forces,” said Najia Anwari, a spokeswoman for the State Ministry on Peace Affairs. This comes hours after Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen on Twitter said that the group is ready to enter into intra-Afghan talks if the government ensures the release of the remaining prisoners before the Eid.
“The (the Taliban) is ready to release all remaining prisoners of the other side before the eve of Eid al-Adha provided they release our prisoners as per our list already delivered to them. (It is) likely, (the Taliban) is ready to begin intra-Afghan negotiations immediately after Eid,” Shaheed tweeted. This comes as the Taliban and the Afghan security forces continue to fight each other in various regions of the country despite calls on both sides to exercise restraint and expedite efforts for the start of the intra-Afghan talks.
“The government should also release the prisoners, the situation is getting worse in Afghanistan day by day, the government, the nation and the Taliban are all Afghans,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander. “More than 4,000 Taliban have been released. In exchange, the Taliban also released some of our soldiers–there is no reason for a stalemate in the process, because the people of Afghanistan are sacrificed on a daily basis,” said Shaida Mohammad Abdali, former Afghan ambassador to India.
Ordinary Afghans have also been pressing the Afghan government and the Taliban to sit at the table and find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. “How long should there be war, both the Taliban and the government should avoid making illogical excuses, violence has to stop soon,” said Zaabi, a resident in Kabul.
“Prisoners from both sides should be released to start the talks so that the people can live in a peaceful environment,” said Fayaz, a resident in Kabul. Amid the new development there are some reports that some of the Taliban who were released from the jails have returned to the battlefield. In defiance of their commitments not to rejoin the war, a number of Taliban prisoners who were released from the Afghan government jails have reintegrated with their colleagues on the battlefields, the Office of National Security Council (ONSC) said, as violence continues to expand on multiple fronts across the country despite international calls for the Taliban to reduce violence.
“The Taliban fighters signed the papers and pledged they will not return to the war, but regrettably some of these inmates have returned to the war front in defiance of the expectations of the Afghan people,” said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the ONSC. The Taliban however have rejected such reports. Under the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in Doha, the Taliban demanded the release of 5,000 inmates, and the Afghan government has so far released 4,245. In exchange, the Taliban has released over 860 government hostages, out of 1,000 total mentioned in agreement.