The disagreement over the terms of the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners from the Afghan government’s custody has delayed the process that was expected to happen on March 10.
The Afghan government has agreed to release up to 1,500 prisoners in 10 days, starting from March 14, but sources said the Taliban has not accepted those terms.
“We proposed a mechanism for the peace process to move forward. Taliban will have to work with us to find a solution, get their prisoners released and push for peace,” said Javid Faisal a spokesman for the National Security Council. “The ball is in their court now to decide on whether to remain part of the problem or become part of the solution.”
The prisoner release mentioned in the US-Taliban deal is intended to open the way for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations.
“If the Taliban (prisoners) have not been released as agreed between the US and the Taliban, the Taliban indicate that negotiations will not begin,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member.
“It is a US responsibility to release the 5,000 prisoners, or the Taliban will not prepare for talks,” said Sami Yousafzai, a journalist.
Afghan analysts said the process should be conducted in a way that will help the peace process.
“The Taliban owe their release to the US authorities, especially Khalilzad, and they have no respect for Ashraf Ghani’s orders and what the Americans have promised them. And I do not believe that the Taliban will ever negotiate or comply with Ashraf Ghani,” said Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst.
Acting Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi also commented on the prisoner release at a press conference on Saturday.
“Our representatives (from the ministry) are also on the board that holds meeting (for the prisoners release) and will decide about the first 100 prisoners and how they will be released–and when–and their details will be shared with the public when they are released,” he said.
“The Afghan government is fully prepared to do so (release the prisoners), and an assessment has begun of the Taliban list to properly analyze the risks and move the process forward,” said Durrani Waziri, a presidential spokesman.