Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejects Taliban prisoner release

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejects Taliban prisoner release
Nearly 10,000 captured Taliban are being held in Afghanistan. Source: AFP
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Daily US Times, Kabul: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said his government has not pledged to free Taliban prisoners, as stated in the agreement between the militant group and the US.

Under the landmark deal which was signed in Doha yesterday, 5,000 Taliban would be released in exchange for up to 1,000 government detainees by 10 March.

But, Ashraf Ghani said that such a prisoner release “cannot be a prerequisite for talks”, but must be part of negotiations.

The agreement includes a phased withdrawal of US troops. Under the agreement, the US will reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 in the first 135 days. Allies are also drawing down their forces proportionately. Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are due to start at that time.

The deal also prevents the Taliban to keep any ties with al-Qaeda and all other extremist groups from operating in the areas they control.

The US invaded Afghanistan weeks after the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda group attacked New York’s Twin Tower, which killed about 3,000 people and injured 6 thousand others. Taliban were ousted from power but became an insurgent force that by 2018 was active in more than two-thirds of the country.

What did Ashraf Ghani say?

Less than 24 hours after the deal was signed, President Ghani told reporters that the reduction in violence will continue with a ”goal to reach a full ceasefire.”

But he added: “There is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners.

Mr Ghani also said any prisoner release in the authority of the Afghan government, not in the authority of the US.

It is estimated that nearly 10,000 captured Taliban are being held in Afghanistan.