Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Afghanistan to Release 400 ‘Hard-Core’ Prisoners to Start Peace Talks

Afghanistan to Release  400 ‘Hard-Core’ Prisoners to Start Peace Talks

KABUL - The Loya Jirga, or grand council, on Sunday officially agreed to release 400 Taliban prisoners so as to pave the way for intra-Afghan peace talks.
The Jirga, made up of 3,200 tribal elders, community leaders and politicians, announced their decision on the third and final day of the gathering.
“In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban,” the assembly said in a resolution.
Within minutes, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, “Today, I will sign the release order of these 400 prisoners.”
In his closing speech Ghani said: “We have the capacity for peace, and most importantly, we have the moral courage that war is not the solution.”
He said both the people and government of Afghanistan accept the Taliban as a reality but it was now up to the Taliban to prove whether they accept the diversity and unity of Afghanistan or not.
“The Loya Jirga of Afghanistan made history today. The Afghan Loya Jirga wants to end the last 40 years” of war, he said.
“Great courage is not in war, great courage is in peace,” he added.
He also said the decision made collectively by the delegates proved it was a sign of the country’s national unity and the people’s belief in the constitution and system of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The release of the 400 “hard-core” Taliban prisoners has been a stumbling block in the peace talks process over the past few months, following the Doha agreement signed between the US and the Taliban.
In accordance with the agreement, the Afghan government had to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Over 4,600 have been released so far but the final 400, who were listed by the Taliban, has been a sticking point.
Last week Ghani called for a Loya Jirga to make the decision.
According to Reuters, talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government will start in Doha this week.
However, Ghani has said that the Taliban must agree to a complete ceasefire before talks can start.
This latest move comes amid mounting pressure from the United States for Afghanistan and the Taliban to work out a peace deal.
Ahead of November US elections, Trump is determined to fulfill a major campaign promise of ending America’s longest war.
The drawdown of troops is part of the US’s plan and will bring the number of US troops to “a number less than 5,000” by the end of November, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview broadcast on Saturday. (ATN)