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Obstacles to Talks Will be Removed Soon: Sources

Sources within the government said the obstacles preventing the release of Taliban prisoners--and the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations--are expected to be cleared in the near future.

The main hurdle in the way of the release of the 320 detainees in govt custody is the decision over six of these inmates whose release has been questioned by foreign allies. On the other side, the Afghan government is demanding the release of 22 commando forces by the Taliban, said the source.

Sources close to the Taliban have shared with TOLOnews the list of the six controversial prisoners held by the government, whose release France and Australia have opposed.

Hekmatullah, Sayed Rasul, Gul Ali, Mohammad Daud, Allah Mohammad and Naqibullah are the six Taliban prisoners whose names have been shared with TOLOnews by a source.

According to the source, Hekmatullah and Allah Mohammad were involved in an attack on French forces in Sarobi district, Kabul province, back in 2008 in which 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 others were wounded.

“The process will be implemented. The prisoners will be released, and the negotiations will begin, but the problem is that time will be wasted and talks will be delayed, ceasefire will be delayed. And, until then, more of this oppressed people will be killed,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former Taliban member.

The Taliban has said they will not start talks unless all their remaining prisoners are released.

The government this month convened a Loya Jirga--a  grand council--to release the 400 high-value Taliban prisoners. The Jirga approved their release and the president signed a decree on their release, but, so far, only 80 of them have been released by the government.

According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, six of them are accused of assorted other crimes, four are accused of unspecified crimes.

The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha.

Critics said lack of flexibility by the Taliban in the peace process is concerning.

“They (Taliban) should show flexibility in this issue. They should save the Afghan nation from this pain and misery,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a source from the government said there is a possibility of a change in the 21-member negotiation team and that a representative of minorities will be added to the delegation. The High Council for National Reconciliation officials said the formation of the team will not be changed.

“The negotiation team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is fully ready for intra-Afghan negotiations… We expect that the Taliban would also get ready for intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman of the council. 

Obstacles to Talks Will be Removed Soon: Sources

The Taliban has said they will not start talks unless all their remaining prisoners are released.  

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Sources within the government said the obstacles preventing the release of Taliban prisoners--and the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations--are expected to be cleared in the near future.

The main hurdle in the way of the release of the 320 detainees in govt custody is the decision over six of these inmates whose release has been questioned by foreign allies. On the other side, the Afghan government is demanding the release of 22 commando forces by the Taliban, said the source.

Sources close to the Taliban have shared with TOLOnews the list of the six controversial prisoners held by the government, whose release France and Australia have opposed.

Hekmatullah, Sayed Rasul, Gul Ali, Mohammad Daud, Allah Mohammad and Naqibullah are the six Taliban prisoners whose names have been shared with TOLOnews by a source.

According to the source, Hekmatullah and Allah Mohammad were involved in an attack on French forces in Sarobi district, Kabul province, back in 2008 in which 10 French soldiers were killed and 21 others were wounded.

“The process will be implemented. The prisoners will be released, and the negotiations will begin, but the problem is that time will be wasted and talks will be delayed, ceasefire will be delayed. And, until then, more of this oppressed people will be killed,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former Taliban member.

The Taliban has said they will not start talks unless all their remaining prisoners are released.

The government this month convened a Loya Jirga--a  grand council--to release the 400 high-value Taliban prisoners. The Jirga approved their release and the president signed a decree on their release, but, so far, only 80 of them have been released by the government.

According to government data, out of the 400 prisoners in question, 156 of them have been sentenced to death, 105 of them are accused of murder, 34 of them are accused of kidnapping that led to murder, 51 of them are accused of drug smuggling, 44 of them are on the blacklist of the Afghan government and its allies, six of them are accused of assorted other crimes, four are accused of unspecified crimes.

The list of 5,000 prisoners was given to the Afghan government by the Taliban to be released ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, which are now expected to be held in Doha.

Critics said lack of flexibility by the Taliban in the peace process is concerning.

“They (Taliban) should show flexibility in this issue. They should save the Afghan nation from this pain and misery,” said Sayed Ishaq Gailani, head of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a source from the government said there is a possibility of a change in the 21-member negotiation team and that a representative of minorities will be added to the delegation. The High Council for National Reconciliation officials said the formation of the team will not be changed.

“The negotiation team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is fully ready for intra-Afghan negotiations… We expect that the Taliban would also get ready for intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, spokesman of the council. 

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