Sediq Sediqqi, the Presidential spokesman said that the government will not release the remaining Taliban prisoners unless the group frees 22 Afghan security force members they are holding captive.
This comes after the government released 80, of what was initially a group of 400 prisoners, from Pul-e Charkhi prison in Kabul following a presidential decree to pardon and release them.
Last Monday’s decree, signed by President Ashraf Ghani, was the result of a Loya Jirga, or grand council, which voted in favor of the insurgents’ release following two days of consultations.
The process has however raised concerns and Australia and France have also publicly called on the government to not release all 320 prisoners – some of whom are guilty of having killed their nationals.
Meanwhile, reliable sources from the Afghan government said that the process would be suspended until the United States has reached an agreement over six of the Taliban prisoners involved in insider attacks, the so-called green-on-blue attacks, with Australia and France.
Two weeks ago, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged US President Donald Trump to ensure Hekmatullah, an Afghan soldier who carried out an insider attack and killed three Australian soldiers in 2012, was not part of the final batch of Taliban inmates expected to be freed as part of the release deal in the lead up to intra-Afghan peace talks.
France also objected and said in a statement it had asked the Afghan government not to include Taliban fighters convicted of killing French citizens.“France is particularly concerned by the presence, among the individuals liable to be released, of several terrorists convicted of killing French citizens in Afghanistan,” the French Foreign Ministry said.