Taliban ex-prisoners pledge no return to battlefield

KABUL (TOLO News): Shamul Rahman, a resident of Panj Qala village in Parwan’s Bagram district, was released with 100 Taliban prisoners on Wednesday from Bagram airbase after being detained by Afghan security forces five years ago for involvement in terrorist activities.

“We don’t want to fight in Afghanistan anymore and we don’t want to spend our lives in prison anymore,” said Rahman.

Milatyar, another member of the recently-released Taliban group, said he hopes for peace.

“I hope there will be peace in Afghanistan,” said Milatyar.

The Afghan National Security Council confirmed on Thursday afternoon that another 100 prisoners had been released. This follows an initial release on Wednesday of the first group of 100 prisoners released by the Afghan government.

Jawid Faisal, the spokesman for the National Security Council, said: “According to the president’s order, 100 Taliban prisoners were released after they pledged not to return to the battlefield, also considering their health status, age, and the length of their imprisonment, and to fight better against coronavirus and to make progress in peace talks, they were released.”

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the release of Taliban prisoners was not based on the group’s agreement with the United States, and that the process is unacceptable for the group.

“the stalemate will continue to be there if the entire prisoners of the Islamic Emirate weren’t released including the 15 individuals (15 high profile Taliban inmates) who are the disputed ones,” said Jalaluddin Shinwari, the attorney general in the Taliban regime.

Although the Afghan government has already released 200 Taliban prisoners, so far it is not clear when the Taliban will release 1,000 Afghan prisoners of war who were set to be released at the same time as the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.

“As they discussed in the agreement with the United States, it must be implemented and inter-Afghan negotiations must begin and the country must get rid of this crisis,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Meanwhile, Taliban negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai in an interview said that Washington and NATO have been defeated in the war in Afghanistan.

Stankizai also said that the Taliban does not recognize the Afghan government and that only “one delegate from the government will participate in the potential intra-Afghan talks.”

“The Taliban must also show their goodwill, but unfortunately they do not know any word called ‘goodwill,'” said Abdul Satar Hussaini, a member of parliament.

The prisoner release is a step outlined in the US-Taliban deal signed in Doha on February 29 and is intended to be a confidence-building measure to pave the way for the intra-Afghan talks. The talks have not yet begun due to delays in the release of prisoners.

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