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Editorial: Give peace a chance

The Taliban, a group the Afghan government is seeking peace with, has some other demands suggested in the US-Taliban peace deal signed in late February last year. It has been disclosed by US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson. The Taliban is expecting the release of thousands of their prisoners under their agreement with the United States. Though he forgot the exact date, it should be by mid-December. It means other thousands of Taliban prisoners should be given a clean check within some days. The specific provision relating to another 7,000 Taliban prisoners is contained in the US-Taliban agreement. Taliban also seek removal of their members from the UN Blacklist. Although tough decisions are expected from the Afghan side in a deal it was never part of it. Anyways, releasing over 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Afghan government was a positive step taken to remove the last obstacle to negotiations. Though it was not officially included in the talks, it still honored the peace commitment between Taliban and US just to pave way for intra-Afghan talks to eventually end the war. The Taliban so far did not accept the plea of reduction in violence to lead to a comprehensive ceasefire. They say the possibility of truce could be debated only during the talks, then why not the issue of releasing more Taliban prisoners to also be debated during the negotiations. The peace process in Doha has entered into the second phase, which is intra-Afghan talks. The Taliban are now facing the Afghan peace delegation and all the demands should be consulted among them. A little progress has been made in the talks after nearly three months of long discussions and the fresh demands of the Taliban could definitely complicate the prospect of the peace process. This is indeed a very tough decision and it is likely to further delay the talks. It’s also unacceptable demand from the Taliban to expect further release of prisoners while ignoring reduction in violence as per their Doha agreement with the US. This is also mentioned there, but practically nothing happened in connection. What did the last release get the Afghan nation except more misery, destruction and continuation of deadly chain of violence – if releasing over 5,000 prisoners did not yield the Taliban to lower violence what makes it rational to pardon another additional 7,000 – this will achieve nothing but more bloodshed. Taliban are trying to extract gains before transition. With fresh development that broke the deadlock in the talks that also created hope for the peace process that is seen as the only way to move forward to end the decade’s long conflict, new conditions by the Taliban could diminish it. Lest give peace a chance not our narrow interests!

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