KABUL: The Taliban have asked for releasing of their 15 prisoners—a demand that strongly brushed off by the Kabul administration, saying they were behind major attacks and can be released simply.
The lack of mechanism to facilitate the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in return to 1,000 Afghan security personnel could trigger the fragile peace process into a flare-up situation that potentially risk the US-Taliban peace deal signed late February.
For now, it is unacceptable demand, Matin Bek, Head of Independent Directorate of Local Governance told newsmen on Monday, but expressed flexibility of the government to release 400 prisoners.
The process will be kicked off with releasing the less dangerous Taliban prisoners, he said. But the process could be derailed if the Taliban did not reduce violence.
Moreover, the Taliban in a statement said the deal that they signed with the US on Feb. 29 has been violated in clear instances by the United States and its allies.
In their statement, the group connected the violation of the deal to the delay in the release of 5,000 prisoners from the Afghan government’s custody and claims of attacks on Taliban targets even in non-combat areas, operations on civilian areas by Afghan and US forces, airstrikes on inappropriate and on civilian areas, attacks on Taliban members in areas where they are not engaged in fighting, and some violations in Kandahar, Helmand, Farah, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Paktia, Badakhshan, Balk and other parts.
However, U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett in a tweet denied the Taliban allegation, saying the U.S. forces in Afghanistan has “upheld and continues to uphold the military terms of the U.S.-TB (Taliban) agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless.”
In his tweet, Leggett called for Taliban to reduce violence and said the U.S. military will continue to come to the aid of Afghanistan’s security forces if attacked, in line with the agreement.
However, Mr. Bek said that there is no specification who to be freed at first place.