As peace talks between the government and the Taliban appear imminent, President Ghani says the peace process will not move forward until the fate of the security forces held by the Taliban is clarified.
The release of prisoners is one of the Taliban ‘s preconditions to start peace talks. According to the US peace agreement with the Taliban, up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the government prisons, and 1,000 security forces prisoners held by the Taliban, must be released before peace talks begin.
But about four months after the agreement was signed, some 4,200 Taliban prisoners have been released by the government and about 850 government prisoners have been released by the Taliban.
“The reason why the process of releasing Taliban’s prisoners is moving forward is because I want the fate of every prisoner of the Afghan security and defense forces to be clear. The peace process will not go on until the fate of our heroes is clarified,” Ghani said during his visit to Ghazni province on Thursday.
In another part of his speech, President Ghani said that the people of Afghanistan will never give a Taliban emirate supremacy over the republic, and the Taliban should know that the people will make the final decision.
Meanwhile, EU special envoy to Afghanistan Roland Kobia said at a discussion on peace in Afghanistan hosted by Conservative Friends of Afghanistan, a UK-based organization, that the EU does not accept the continuation of violence by the Taliban and says that countries around the world support the democratic system in Afghanistan.
“The EU will continue to support Afghanistan politically and financially but not unconditionally, the EU will not be in a position to support a political region or a future administration that (departs from the) paths for the republican values from the political and social games, from the fundamental rights, rights of women, youths, minorities groups etc,” said Kobia in the conversation on Zoom.
Shabnam Nasimi, chairperson of Conservative Friends of Afghanistan said that women are concerned that their rights will be sacrificed in peace talks.
“Twenty years after the presence of the United States, Britain and the international community, and billions in aid and thousands of victims, the country is in danger of falling to the Taliban – a group that has gone from being an enemy on the battlefield to a partner in a peace process. The people of Afghanistan have made it very clear that they are not dealing (with) Afghanistan’s achievements and the fundamental rights that Afghanistan has gained over the past two decades,” said Nasimi.
On the other hand, sources close to the Taliban say that if the process of releasing prisoners is not completed, violence in the country will increase.
“Continuation of violence and a failure to release prisoners not only delays dialogue between Afghans but even escalates violence,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, university lecturer.
So far it is not clear when the peace talks will begin, but the United Nations has previously said the talks would begin in Doha in July.