Afghanistan: President Ashraf Ghani summons Jirga on release of Taliban prisoners
Afghan President shraf Ghani has urged several prominent citizens gathered in Kabul on Friday to decide the fate of 400 Taliban prisoners in a Jirga.
Thousands of Afghan elders, community leaders, and politicians gathered on 7th August in Kabul to discuss the fate of the prisoners, the last hurdle to opening peace negotiations between Afghanistan and Taliban.
A grand assembly, Loya Jirga, has been organized in Kabul.
President Ashraf Ghani opened the Jirga and said that according to the constitution, “the release of these 400 prisoners is not within the authority of the president of Afghanistan…these 400 people have serious cases.”
Afghanistan has earlier released around 4,600 Taliban prisoners out of 5,000 under the agreement.
The president had announced that he would call the Loya Jirga to discuss the fate of remaining prisoners.
Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, led the Jirga. He said on August 7 that Afghanistan was at a critical stage.
“Our decisions are linked to the fate of the country. It was not an easy decision on the 4,600 detainees…. It was a big decision. But what does it show? The determination of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in removing obstacles to achieving intra-Afghan talks and ultimately peace and stability in this country,” he said.
However, the Taliban has denied that 400 prisoners are dangerous.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said to the local news source, “The accusations they [the Afghan government] are now making are not true. In fact, these accusations were made by the Kabul administration for delaying the process and taking advantage of it. Other than that, those [accusations] have no basis”.
On the other hand, US secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged attendees “to take advantage of this historic opportunity for a peace that benefits all Afghans and contributes to regional stability and global security” and pledged to hold Taliban to the commitment it made for peace talks.
He said in a statement on August 6, “We acknowledge that the release of these prisoners is unpopular,”
“But this difficult action will lead to an important result long sought by Afghans and Afghanistan’s friends: reduction of violence and direct talks resulting in a peace agreement and an end to the war.”
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