Nancy Mylona Staff Reporter, The Pawprint
Under the agreement signed on Saturday in Qatar, 5,000 Taliban would be released in exchange for up to 1,000 government convicts by March 10. However, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani states that the government has not committed to freeing these prisoners. He further stated that such a prisoner release “cannot be a prerequisite for talks” but must be part of negotiations.
Less than 24 hours after the deal was signed in Doha, the Afghan president told reporters in Kabul “The reduction in violence will continue with a goal to reach a full ceasefire, there is no commitment to releasing 5,000 prisoners.”
An estimated 10,000 captured Taliban are being held in Afghanistan. The deal in Doha, states that the US will “work with all relevant sides on a plan to expeditiously release.”
Nevertheless, the US-Afghan joint declaration released on the same day states that the US will “work with all relevant sides on a plan to quickly release” prisoners, before adding that the release will happen by the 10th of March.
As of March 2, The Taliban stated that they would resume fighting Afghan forces, but would not target international troops. Taliban spokesman Zabidullah Muhajid further stated that they would not take part in talks with the government unless the release went ahead. “If our 5,000 prisoners – 100 or 200 more or less does not matter – do not get released there will be no intra-Afghan talks.”
As the circumstances have changed, US president Donald Trump stated that it was “time to bring our people back home.” On Sunday, US secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS news that he wished for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban to begin in the upcoming days.