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Peace process in tatters over prisoners swap

KABUL (Agencies): Afghan government rejected to release 600 Taliban prisoners, who are charged with big crimes including rape charges, asking Taliban to give another 600 prisoners name instead to go for intra-Afghan talks in earliest. But the Taliban has rejected change in their prisoner list further complicating the process.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the offer and said the Taliban will not give up their demand for the release of all those mentioned in the list already shared with the United States during peace negotiations. “We are asking the Kabul administration to release our prisoners but want it not to create problems for the peace process. We want the US to honour its commitment regarding the release of 5,000 prisoners in accordance with the agreement,” Mujahid told Daily Times.

Afghan Foreign Minister, Haneef Attmar said that 4,400 Taliban prisoners have so far been released but the government has refused to release 600 Taliban prisoners who have “serious issues.” “Release of 4,400 Taliban prisoners is a big progress and there is no justification to delay negotiations among Afghans,” he said.

“The US and the Taliban had agreed on 5,000 prisoners but there is no agreement on 5,000 names,” the Afghan foreign minister said. However, the Taliban spokesman dismissed the notion as false and said the US and the Taliban had signed the agreement in February after agreement on the prisoners. Despite the Taliban refusal to join the intra-Afghan negotiations unless the issue of prisoners is resolved, the Afghan foreign minister said that 12 countries including Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, China, Norway and Germany have offered to host intra-Afghan negotiations.

Earlier, Sediq Sediqqi, President Ghani’s Spokesman said that Afghans and the international community have questions for the Taliban regarding implementation of the peace deal with the United States. “Taliban are still in the back. Their efforts are weak and insignificant. Violence is still continuing at a high level. They (Taliban) are not ready for negotiations. Our prisoners are not released by them and they have a big responsibility.” Sediqqi said that judicial bodies were working on the files of those 600 Taliban prisoners who are supposed to be held in government custody for the charge of big crimes.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said that over 1,213 civilians (126 women-225 children) were killed and 1,744 others (171 women-405 children) maimed during the first six months of 2020. The statistics showed at least 11 percent decrease in the civilian casualties compared to 2019, the commission said in a statement. Southwestern, Central, East, North West and South zones are consecutively placed on table from top to lower number of casualties.

The Taliban were responsible for 48.5 percent of the casualties, followed by the Afghan security forces with 15.5 percent, the statement reads. Based on the statements the international forces were responsible for 6.3 percent casualties, IS-K or so called Daesh were behind 2.3 percent and the perpetrator of the 26.7 percent casualties have not been recognized.

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