President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday said that the country is close to reaching a dignified peace, and he called on the Taliban to end the ongoing violence and endorse the peace process.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib also called on the Taliban to ensure the release of Afghan commandos and pilots in exchange for the release of their remaining prisoners.
“We have always called on the Taliban to agree to a long-term ceasefire and to start the talks with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” said Ghani.
“We want to bring a peace so that all the tribes of Afghanistan live together in a peaceful and secure atmosphere,” he added.
This comes as the intra-Afghan talks have been delayed because of the release of 400 Taliban prisoners.
The Afghan government recently released 80 out of the 400 inmates, but last week reports surfaced in the media that some Western countries, including the US, Australia and France, have asked the government of Afghanistan to not release some of these prisoners who are involved in killing their citizens in Afghanistan.
Sources familiar with the peace process said on Wednesday that the Afghan government will not finalize the release of the remaining 320 Taliban prisoners--out of the 400 controversial detainees--unless the Taliban ensures the release of 20 Afghan commandos.
According to the Afghan government, the talks are now underway with Australia and France about the release of 6 Taliban prisoners.
“The talks are underway, we released 80 of them from the 400, they (Taliban) also released some of our prisoners, but now we are waiting for the commandoes and pilots to be released and then we will release the remaining prisoners,” said National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib.
Sources close to the Taliban have said that the group will not start the intra-Afghan talks unless the Afghan government completes the release of the 400 prisoners.
“The Taliban’s political office has clarified to Khalilzad that they cannot take a decision about the six prisoners,” said Sami Yousufzai, a freelance journalist in Doha.
“Violence continues like the previous year, we were expecting to have a ceasefire in place this year, unfortunately, violence did not reduce,” said Assadullah Khalid, the Afghan acting Minister of Defense.
The Taliban have so far not commented on the statement by the Afghan government about the Afghan commandos.
The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations--the peace talks that are now expected to be held in Doha.