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Freed Taliban prisoners returning to the battlefield?

AT News             

KABUL: Afghanistan has released thousands of Taliban prisoners in the wake of a U.S. peace agreement with the militant group in February end. And some of the released militants have pointed to return to the battlefield to fight against Afghan government, in spite of a Taliban commitment to prevent such twist.

A Taliban militant, Mohammad Dawod who was released from Bagram prison had recently told AFP he will continue his ‘jihad’ if American forces don’t pull out.

Videos have also surfaced in social media which depict freed Taliban prisoners speaking about their plan to return to the fight in Afghanistan’s front lines.

Kabul authorities have opened prison doors for thousands of Taliban prisoners, to the mirage of getting the insurgent group sit in the negotiating table with Afghans. But they are being freed only to resume their war against Afghanistan.

In February, Washington had the Taliban concede to constant demand to begin peace talks with the Afghan government in return for the exchange of 5,000 insurgent prisoners for 1,000 security force prisoners. Since the exchange started, 3,000 Taliban inmates have been released while the insurgents have released more than 750 government prisoners.

And Afghan officials say that among the freed Taliban fighters are myriads of suicide bombing trainers, suicide vest and roadside bomb makers, kidnappers and foreign militants.

The Taliban leaders have explicitly defended their jihad mantra even in the face of the US peace deal.

Taliban deputy leader Serajuddin Haqqani in a gathering in Pakistan had said that politics and negotiations must not be conflated with their jihad agenda and the strengthening of their jihad paramilitary force. The prisoner release will have to be the opening salvo in the long-sought intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at ending the war and reconciling the insurgent group with the Afghan political system and government – something which is still unfulfilled.

Some Taliban commanders have even floated the strong suggestion that the freed Taliban inmates will be returning to the front lines of the war in absence of a deal between Kabul and the Taliban.

And Kabul government has long emphasized on Pakistan’s key role in convincing the insurgents to join the negotiations – as it was evident after the signing of the agreement in Qatar when Pakistani authorities unequivocally said they had forced the Taliban to sign it.

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