Presidential candidate and former head of the National Directorate of Security, Rahmatullah Nabil, on Sunday said that he is against the release of Taliban prisoners, particularly Anas Haqqani–a member of the Haqqani Network–for a swap with two professors of the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), but he said that if the swap leads to peace, then “it is understandable.”
Sources say the Taliban has demanded the release of 80 prisoners, including Anas Haqqani and Hafiz Rashid–two leaders of the Haqqani Network–for a swap with two foreign professors who were kidnapped in 2016 while working for the American University.
This exchange, also according to sources, is being discussed by the US, the Afghan government, and the Taliban as a way to reinitiate peace talks.
Anas Haqqani and three other key members of the Taliban were arrested while Nabil was serving as the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security.
“I heard there are important figures on the list: Anas Haqqani; Hafiz Rashid, the brother of Mullah Omari; and Mali Khan, a key member of Sirajuddin Haqqani,” said Nabil.
“Basically, I am against the exchange, because it further encourages hostage-taking, but if this exchange is taken as a step for peace, then it is understandable, for the sake of peace,” said Nabil.
Meanwhile, sources close to the Taliban said that the Taliban and the US have so far not reached a final decision about who from the Taliban will be released if a swap happens.
“An agreement was reached about a swap between the US and the Taliban, but a final decision has not been reached about the exact numbers of these individuals,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
However, Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, has said that the government will make a decision regarding the issue with the national interests of Afghanistan in mind:
“The government has its own policy towards the release of the prisoners and will assess it in line with the national interests of the country,” said Sediqqi.