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Stalled prisoner swaps sapping peace efforts

International community has provided an opportunity for the Taliban to embrace peace that could be achieved by shunning violence, Presidential Palace said.

AT News

KABUL: Afghanistan will not release 597 Taliban prisoners that are involved in moral crimes, including rape charges – a significant setback that has sapped a brief optimism towards the intra-Afghan peace talks.

The Kabul administration has to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners as part of the US-Taliban peace deal hammered out on February 29th in Doha. Over 4,000 prisoners have so far been released as part of peace efforts to facilitate intra-Afghan talks.

A large number of Taliban prisoners were released in a bid to reduce violence, Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Presidential Palace said on Monday. In his presser, he lamented on intensifications of violence by the Taliban group that has not “come down” despite their prisoner being released.

The Taliban are not serious about the peace process, Mr. Sediqqi said, adding the Taliban must end the violence in the country. International community had strongly condemned Taliban’s unabated violence, asking them to reduce the level of violence as it would imperil the peace process.

“The more Taliban engaged in warfare the more they hurt themselves,” Sediqqi said. A global opportunity for peace is here and the Taliban must not escape from it, he added.

The International community has provided an opportunity for the Taliban to embrace peace and it could be achievable by shunning violence, Sediqqi added.

The Kabul peace force is fully ready to carry talks with the Taliban, he said, accusing Taliban of being reluctant towards the process. We are committed to the prisoner swaps, but can’t go what those criminals that are charged with moral crimes, including rape, Sediqqi added.

Ahamd Rashid Totakhil, head of the prisoners’ release affairs, said prisoners who are accused of “crimes and moral issues” are on a list that was given to the government by the Taliban.

It’s a victim’s rights issue and according to the law, the government and other powers are having no authority to release them, he said.

Under any pretext, even as Taliban prisoners, who are charged with murders and morel crimes like rape, are not allowed to be freed according to the law, he said.

In a bigger picture, targeted killings and widespread attacks across the country, including prisoner exchanges that have hit the wall, have sapped brief optimism as peace talks remained stalled.

Afghanistan, in the past one week, has gone from assassinations of religious scholars and assault against culture figures to widespread Taliban attacks, a significant spur in the violence that undermines the ongoing peace efforts.

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