KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani urged 1000’s of outstanding residents gathered in Kabul on Friday to resolve whether or not to launch about 400 Taliban prisoners, together with many concerned in assaults that killed scores of Afghans and foreigners.
The prisoners’ destiny is a vital hurdle in launching peace talks between the 2 warring sides, which have dedicated to finishing a prisoner change earlier than the talks can begin.
The Afghan authorities has launched nearly 5,000 Taliban inmates, however authorities have balked at liberating the ultimate prisoners demanded by the Taliban.
Ghani confused that peace talks might start in days if the prisoners had been freed, whereas including that he would “strongly endorse and support any decision”.
“The Taliban said if these 400 are released, then within three days direct talks will start,” Ghani mentioned as he opened the three-day loya jirga — a conventional Afghan assembly of tribal elders and different stakeholders typically held to resolve on controversial points.
Taliban query authorized foundation of the meeting
“If they are not freed, not only would they continue the war but they would intensify it. But it was not possible to release them without consulting the nation.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed for the discharge of the detainees, whereas recognising the choice can be “unpopular”.
“But this difficult action will lead to an important result long sought by Afghans and Afghanistan’s friends: reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war,” he mentioned in an announcement.
Lawmaker Belquis Roshan, a outstanding ladies’s rights activist attending the gathering, protested in opposition to the discharge of the prisoners.
As Ghani spoke, she stood within the corridor and unfurled a banner that learn: “Redeeming Taliban is national treason.”
In line with an official listing of the Taliban prisoners, lots of the inmates are accused of great offences, with greater than 150 of them on dying row.
The listing additionally features a group of 44 insurgents of explicit concern to the USA and different international locations for his or her function in “high-profile” assaults.
They embody 5 insurgents linked to the 2018 assault on the Intercontinental Lodge in Kabul that killed 40 individuals, together with 14 foreigners.
A Taliban militant concerned within the huge Might 2017 truck bombing close to the German embassy in Kabul can also be on the listing, which features a former Afghan military officer who killed 5 French troops and wounded 13 in 2012 in an insider assault.
“There are definitely some prisoners that people don’t want released, mostly because they are guilty of having killed coalition troops and nationals,” a Western official conversant in the case mentioned on situation of anonymity.
About 3,200 dignitaries are collaborating within the three-day meeting, Masoom Stanekzai, the pinnacle of the organising committee, mentioned.
Abdullah Abdullah, who will lead peace talks with the Taliban, informed the loya jirga that the choice was a “matter of life and death for people of Afghanistan”, whereas additionally pledging to respect their suggestion which isn’t legally binding.
The Taliban, who’ve fulfilled their facet of the prisoner swap, dismissed the jirga, saying it had no authorized base.
“Seventy per cent of the country is controlled by the Islamic Emirate (of Taliban). How can this jirga represent all Afghans?” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen requested.
In line with the prisoner listing, the Taliban are additionally demanding the discharge of an rebel concerned in a 2018 assault in opposition to British safety agency G4S in addition to a number of militants concerned within the killing of US troopers.
Two militants concerned in a suicide assault focusing on a Nato convoy in Kabul in 2015 that killed 12 individuals, together with three Individuals, had been additionally among the many 400.
Printed in Daybreak, August eighth, 2020