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Editorial: Are we slated for disappointment?

Everything has its tradeoff but the question is at what opportunity cost one has the willingness to do it. The stark decision to release the 400 contentious Taliban prisoners taken by the Loya Jirga is a similar case. The Afghan nation and the government agreed to let the prisoners convicted of heavy crimes go free in a bid to pave the way for the launch of intra-Afghan talks and bring an end to the war. However, the cost of this undertaking is releasing convicts that are incarcerated for unforgivable crimes, as well as taking the risk of these hardliners swelling up the ranks of the Taliban insurgents once again and continuing fighting. One such case is of an inmate – Afghan Army turncoat – who killed three Australian troopers back in 2012 while they were playing a card game. This rogue killer is set to be released in the prisoner swap agreed by President Ashraf Ghani. The issue’s seriousness can be perceived from the fact that even Australian Prime Minister Scoot Morrison has spoken out about the US-brokered prisoner release. Morrison describes it as a matter of keen interest to Australia as he urged President Trump to keep him behind bars. However, it’s only a case in point; there are 400 other extreme cases whose release received a go-ahead from Loya Jirga. It’s indeed a heavy price that Afghans are paying with a hope that peace and stability return to Afghanistan. Moreover, there is also a possibility of foreigners among the inmates to be released who, the Loya Jirga stipulated, should be handed over to their respective countries based on a valid guarantee. This makes Loya Jirga declaration’s article that said the people and the government of Afghanistan must be assured that the released Taliban prisoners “will not return to war and their activity will be monitored,” all the more essential. We are already witnessing an increase in violence and attacks across the country, even before these inmates are released. The Afghan nation has paid many sacrifices over the years and this prisoner release decision of theirs is also due to being so much desperate for peace. Although the Taliban have voiced their readiness to enter direct negotiations with the Afghan government within a week after the prisoner release process is completed, it’s hoped that the Afghan nation doesn’t come to regret its decision and face a disappointment. If, in the unlikely event, the intra-Afghan talks fail, the Afghan masses would be the ones that stand to lose the most – especially in terms of their lives.

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