National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal on Sunday said that the government is attempting to determine which of the Taliban prisoners currently being considered for release might pose a threat in the future.
The US-Taliban peace deal signed in Doha on February 29 called for 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be released by the Afghan government, and 1000 Afghan forces prisoners to be released by the Taliban. Shortly after the deal-signing, President Ghani balked at the release, saying that the Afghan government—which was not a party to the US-Taliban deal—had made no commitment to do so. However, Ghani’s stance changed and the Presidential Palace announced the release would take place, but with conditions.
The Afghan government agreed to release up to 1,500 prisoners in 10 days, starting on March 14, but the process has not started. Sources said the Taliban has not accepted those terms.
On Sunday, Faisal said: “The reassessment of the prisoner list has started, and we should make sure that those who are released will not return to the battlefield,” he said.
“We will not release 5,000 prisoners except in a gradual process,” said presidential advisor Waheed Omar. “In return, there should be some give and take between us and the Taliban. It is part of the peace process and it will happen.”
Shakoor Dadras, formerly in charge of assessing the cases of prisoners in Bagram, blamed the government for not having the will for peace.
“He (President Ghani) said that it belonged to him to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. ‘What is that to the US? The authority of this is with me,’” he said, referring to President Ghani’s remarks following the US-Taliban deal. “But after two nights, they announced that they would release 5,000 prisoners, and later they added conditions to it. These preconditions will be canceled in a while.”
Some members of the National Solidarity Party of Afghanistan at a rally in Kabul on Sunday announced their opposition to the release of Taliban prisoners.
“Peace will not come to Afghanistan with such secret deals,” said a spokesperson of the party, Selai Ghafar.
“Peace does not have any relation to the release of Taliban prisoners,” said Zala, a member of the party.
Meanwhile, the Taliban issued a statement on Sunday saying that lack of health services and hygienic conditions in government detention centers are a matter of concern. They call on international rights and health organizations to serious attention to Afghanistan’s prisons.
The Taliban called on the prisoners to implement health measures to keep themselves safe from the coronavirus.