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Editorial: Actual progress being made

Promising developments are being made in the peace process hard on the heels of earlier suffering of the Afghan people. In the holy month of Ramadan, the intensified conflict waged by the Taliban reportedly claimed the lives of at least 146 civilians, with more than 430 suffering injuries. A 3-day Eid-ul-Fitr ceasefire, which entails high prospects of extension, among the warring parties has given Afghan masses a short-lived sigh of relief. In a recent move, the truce stimulated the Afghan government to release 1,000 over the past few days, bringing the total number of Taliban fighters released so far at 2,000 in exchange for around 250 security personnel freed by the Taliban. Although these peace overtures made by the sides are conducive for elevating the prospects for direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the concern regarding these fighters’ return to the battlefield shouldn’t be overlooked. Recently, Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission also cautioned the government against releasing Taliban militants who committed war crimes. This is while the Taliban are consistently urged to adhere to their commitment by not allowing the released prisoners to return to the battlefield. Nevertheless, following the first phase of the prisoner swap, some reports emerged that showed the Taliban prisoners who were recently released had taken up arms but were killed in conflict with Afghan security forces. Therefore, no matter however much these goodwill gestures are laudable for giving a boost to the peace process, information about such bulk number of releases should be shared with Afghans and relevant organizations. The people must know what sort of guarantees are put in place to deter such prisoners from swelling the insurgents’ ranks yet again. Civil society and human rights organizations, as well as media, should be kept abreast of any recent developments in this regard. These organizations are useful in keeping the government in check and preventing any step that could put the country’s interests and that of its nation at risk. Therefore, they being in dark about such crucial matters mean that the government is doing everything arbitrarily and could take a misstep resulting in harm to Afghan masses – which cannot be ruled out altogether provided that the newly-released Taliban fighters are at large with the ability to wreak havoc on Afghans.

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