Mujeeb R. Awrang
KABUL: President Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation, have held talks with the US National Security Advisor, Robert C. O’Brien on Afghan peace process, in which Washington reaffirmed support to a democratic Afghanistan.
The presidential palace in a statement said that the officials had emphasized on reduction of violence by the Taliban and beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations to lay out a sustainable peace in Afghanistan.
O’Brien said that US support sovereign, democratic and unified Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbors and that to never become a haven for the international terrorism.
He was quoted as saying by the US National Security Council, in which O’Brien said he had an excellent phone call with President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman Abdullah Abdullah.
In a tweet message, Dr. Abdullah said that he exchanged views on reduction of violence, early beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations and prisoner release with O’Brien.
“Joining President Ashraf Ghani, had the pleasure of exchanging views via telephone with (US National Security Advisor, Robert O’ Brien,” Abdullah said.
The remarks of the top Afghan and US officials come amid a high level of violence that the Afghan people and government expected to be significantly cut down after the US-Taliban peace deal signed on 29th February in Qatar’s capital Doha.
The US-Taliban deal included American troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan negotiations, a significant reduction in violence, release of 5,000 Taliban in exchange for the 1,000 Afghan security forces and also the Taliban’s commitment to cut links with other terrorist groups.
But the initial phase of the deal has been facing hurdles as the government blamed the Taliban for not remaining committed towards peace.
The militants insisted on releasing their 5,000 prisoners held in government custody before setting for talks with the Kabul negotiation team.
Over 4,000 Taliban prisoners were released by the government, according to recent details given by the National Security Council. However the council said that 592 inmates, who are behind big crimes, would not be released. Of around 7000 Afghan security forces freed by the Taliban, the government said that 175 of them were civilians.
The disagreement between the government and Taliban on prisoner swap process comes while the US has already reduced the number of its roughly 13,000 troops to 8,600 from five major bases in Afghanistan.
There are various views by the military and political analysts on the Taliban’s stance towards the Afghan peace process.
Former Interior Minister, Ali Ahmad Jalali said that the Taliban were under pressure by Islamabad to press the Afghan government for releasing foreigner Taliban-linked militants.
In an interview with the Voice of America, Jalali said that the militants have benefited from the situation in Afghanistan as the US has drawn down a number of its troops and that they may postpone the negotiations for longer. “The Taliban have presented the government with a list of foreign prisoners, especially Pakistani militants,” he said.