The Kabul Times.
Politics

Taliban demanding release of 7,000 prisoners prior to Istanbul conference

By: Lailuma Noori

Sources say one of the conditions of the Taliban group for participation at Istanbul conference is the release of their 7,000 prisoners from Afghanistan prisons. Besides, for participation at the Istanbul conference, the group has asked full US and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and removing of names of their leaders from the UN blacklist.
According to the sources, Taliban are persisting that two of their conditions should be implemented before the conference is held. It is said that Taliban has shared list of their prisoners and names of their leaders with the US side.
Afghan political experts believe that Taliban with their suggestion want to increase their fighting in battlefields to get more concessions in peace negotiations with Afghanistan government. They believe that releasing of Taliban prisoners can be only in the benefit of the people of Afghanistan when a permanent ceasefire is maintained, or it will result in increasing civilian casualties.
“Releasing of further Taliban prisoners while there is no commitment from the Taliban side is dangerous as there are not any guarantees,” said Atiqullah Amarkhil, an Afghan military expert. He said that releasing of the Taliban prisoners for the second time will result increasing insecurities.
Previously, Afghanistan National Security Council had stated that the release of other 7,000 prisoners would not help in succeeding the peace process what the previous release of prisoners did not help in the process.
“Release of Taliban prisoners is not the demand of Afghans. When Taliban prisoners were released by Afghanistan government, the people protested as Taliban has never stood on its commitment to reduction in violence in the country; therefore, release of prisoners is not helpful to peace process,” said Rahmatullah Ander, a spokesperson to the country’s National Security Council.
Currently, the people of Afghanistan are facing with increasing insecurities and threats posed by Taliban insurgents in the country. Continued insecurities and violence by the Taliban are against the US – Taliban peace agreement as a large number of provinces of the country have witnessed clashes between Taliban and Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
Taliban are still debating with US side for the release of their nearly 7,000 prisoners from Afghanistan prisons and removing of their leaders from the UN blacklist. The Taliban is also expecting the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by 1st May.
This comes after the Istanbul conference was delayed for the second time. Turkey foreign ministry has announced that the conference was delayed and will be held after Eid. Turkey, UN, US and Qatar have made effort to convince Taliban for participation at Istanbul conference for the past few days, but the Taliban group has not shown readiness to participate at the conference.

 

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The Kabul Times.