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Postponing of prisoner swap affects peace efforts

By Mujeeb R. Awrang

KABUL: The process of the prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and Taliban that lays out the long awaited intra-Afghan negotiations, in which the conflict sides are to discuss a ceasefire and to bring lasting peace to the country, appears again to face walls as the government denied to release 597 of the 5,000 imprisoned Taliban demanded to be freed before the negotiations. These militant inmates are responsible for big crimes such as murders and armed robberies, according to the National Security Council. The council called on Taliban to send another list to demand the release of other insurgents with lighter crimes.

But the Taliban insist on the release of those comrades earlier demanded to be released.

The release of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return for the 1,000 Afghan security forces was agreed in a peace deal signed between the US and Taliban on February 29th after a marathon of peace talks in the absence of Afghan government.   

Disagreement between the government and Taliban on prisoner swap comes amid new surge of violence that the officials and people of Afghanistan expected to be significantly reduced after the US deal.

The government statement regarding keeping still 597 imprisoned insurgents comes while the government has already released over 4,000 prisoners. The Taliban also freed over 700 Afghan security forces.

Taliban have warned they would not join the talks unless the last person of their demanded colleagues was freed from government custody.

But the decision does not sound to be firm as the government has revised its stance on the prisoner swap process because of intensive pressures by the US.

What the Afghans want is end of the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

The Taliban conduct an average of more than 10 attacks on the Afghan security forces, the Afghan officials said.

In return the Taliban also suffer casualties in the clashes against the Afghan security forces.

To take a close eye on the Afghan peace process, there are some secret figures inside the government and Taliban group, who may seeking their personal interest or regional intelligence interests, want to undermine the peace process. 

However, the process of prisoner swap has been in its ups and downs for many times since the process was started.  

The opportunity to bring peace in Afghanistan is not considered to be available always. We can’t denied, that the US President Donald Trump wanted to have a great achievement on his basket for running in the US presidential election in November. The end of the US longest war that is now looming for almost two decades could have been a great achievement for Trump. But Trump is currently stuck in a bunch of crisis at home the pandemic coronavirus and public protests over police racist act in Minneapolis.  

The two new controversial issues in US distracted Trump’s attention from foreign policy to internal. There is a lot inside the US that Trump and his team need to resolve rather than making Afghan peace as a bet on his side in US Presidential Election.

So, this really is a golden time for the Afghan conflict parties to take a logic view on the peace process, behold their egoism, reach a ceasefire and sustainable peace in the country, whose people wants nothing but an end to the war that traumatized the whole nation for years.

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