Crime Justice

Afghanistan will not release 600 'too dangerous' Taliban prisoners

Salaam Times and AFP

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Taliban prisoners stand during their release from the Bagram prison in Parwan Province. Afghan authorities do not plan to release hundreds of Taliban captives deemed “too dangerous”. [WAKIL KOHSAR / AFP]

KABUL -- Afghan authorities said Wednesday (July 8) they will not release hundreds of Taliban captives deemed "too dangerous" despite planned peace talks that hinge on the prisoner exchange.

Under the terms of a US-Taliban deal signed in February, Kabul pledged to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners in a swap that would see the insurgents release around 1,000 Afghan security forces captives.

But National Security Council (NSC) spokesman Javid Faisal told AFP that 600 prisoners the Taliban asked to be freed still had "serious criminal cases" against them.

They include people charged with murder, highway robbery and even sodomy, as well as hundreds of foreign fighters, another government official said on condition of anonymity.

"They are too dangerous to be released," the official said.

The Taliban accused the government of fabricating criminal cases against the prisoners.

"If they continue to create more problems in this regard, then it shows they do not want issues to be solved through reasonable ways," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday.

Faisal insisted the government is committed to the talks.

"We are ready for peace and will release the remaining prisoners... as per the agreement -- just not these hundreds of prisoners who have serious criminal cases in the courts," he said.

Both sides have pledged to hold direct talks aimed at ending the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan after completing the exchange.

The government has already freed more than 4,000 Taliban fighters, while the insurgents have completed around two-thirds of their releases.

Earlier this week a top Afghan official said it was up to the authorities to decide who should be released.

"We don't expect the Taliban to tell us which inmates to be released," said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.

Continued Taliban violence is threatening the peace process, Ghani said Monday (July 6) as he briefed the international community on Kabul's preparations for peace talks with the militant group.

"If the Taliban continue fighting, the Afghan peace process will face serious challenges," he told attendees of the online conference from several nations.

"Unfortunately, the current level of violence is higher compared to last year," Ghani said, according to a statement issued by his office.

"There is no obstacle on our side for the peace process, but we see that the Taliban are not serious," Sediqqi told reporters before the conference.

"The government of Afghanistan released a large number of Taliban in order to reduce violence in the country, but the violence has not decreased," he said.

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That is correct.

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It is a big service for Afghans. We thank you very much.

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To be honest, neither the government wants peace with Taliban nor Taliban want to make peace with the Afghan government. The benefit of both sides is in war. The government's high-ranking officials steal all the money which is donated by the International Community and the United States. Government officials do not care about the ordinary people who are killed every day; they just care about filling their own pockets. Taliban leaders also don’t care about killing of the fighters of this group and the civilians. They have best lives in Qatar, and they are also happy that the process of Intra-Afghan talks is disrupted and they take over power through war. Therefore, both the government and Taliban continue to their obstinacy or stubbornness. As long as both the government and Taliban do not abandon their selfishness and obstinacy, peace is not possible.

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Part two If Taliban make peace and join the government, they do not let Atta Mohammad Noor preempt or monopolize some northern provinces, especially Balkh province and put all its revenues in his own pocket. That’s why he attempted to remove Salahuddin Rabbani, leader of Jamiat-E-Islami Party who was supposed to declare an opposition against the government, from the leadership of this party. Now the Party is divided into two groups. In one group, there are Salahuddin Rabbani and other people who want to make peace with Taliban, and this group is opposing the Kabul government, but in the second group, there are Atta Mohammad Noor and some other figures who do not want to make peace with Taliban and they are in favor of the government. If the existed opportunity is not used properly and the peace process fails, the current government of Afghanistan and the government of the United States will be responsible. Whether we want or not, Taliban will take over power in Afghanistan, but it would be better to hold talks with them and they come to Kabul through a peaceful way. If they enter Kabul through war, all the achievements of the past 20 years will be lost; Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will be dissolved and Afghanistan will enter into a new civil war, which will cause loss or harm not only to Afghanistan but to the whole world.

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Not releasing 600 Taliban prisoners is a big mistake that the Afghan government is making. When they released 4400 of Taliban prisoners, why don’t they release 600 others? Weren’t 4400 of them dangerous? Had those who were released been playing football with the Afghan government during the war? Weren’t they involved in the killing of Afghan soldiers? If they were not criminal, why were they arrested and put in the prisons of Afghanistan? All Taliban fighters were and are dangerous. There is no good and bad fighters among them. Not releasing these 600 Taliban fighters will create problem for the Afghan government and will disrupt the peace process with this group. To be honest, some high-ranking officials do not want peace with Taliban. Asadullah Khalid, Hamdullah Mohib, and Amrullah Saleh are the tenacious enemies of Taliban. A few months ago, you saw Amrullah Saleh who said in an interview with one of the private televisions that, he would never compromise intellectually with Taliban. When the second person of the government expresses such remarks, do you think they have determination for peace? They are never in favor of peace. If there wasn’t America's pressure, I don’t think they would be ready to release Taliban prisoners and hold talks with Taliban. Even some political parties, which have enmity with Taliban, supported Ashraf Ghani in the elections, because there were anti-Taliban figures in the team of Ashraf Ghani. Why did Atta Mohammad Noor support Ashraf Ghani, while he was opponent of Ashraf Ghani? The reason is because he also has enmity with Taliban and does not want Taliban share power with the government. End of part one

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We have no interest to like or dislike this article, but we want the government should release these prisoners too so that the peace talks can begin. How much crimes have they committed? They would not have killed people more than Dostum, they would not have killed more than Atta Mohammad, they would not have killed more than Gul Agha Sherzai. They would not have killed more than those killed by Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Sayyaf, Abdullah… as the government is preventing the peace talks by keeping them in prison. Now, you can see as one of Afghans' killers, Ahmad Shah Massoud, is named as the national hero, another killer is named as martyr of national unity, another killer Abdur Rashid Dostum is credited with the rank of Marshal. When such killers are appreciated, then which books gives legitimacy to postpone peace talks for a few prisoners? For Afghans, peace is important, system is important, development is important, competitions in the fields of science, technology, knowledge and technique with the world is important. It is not important whether the system is led by Ashraf Ghani, Hibatullah, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Sayyaf and etc.

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May Allah give you rewards, brother. I also had a similar idea the way you have expressed. Wish you success.

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