NATO's Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, on Saturday updated NATO members in Brussels on the situation in Afghanistan and said that the Taliban needs to end the violence to help kick start the intra-Afghan talks.
“I have updated the North Atlantic Council on the situation in Afghanistan leading up to intra-Afghan negotiations. I was glad to see that once again NATO and alliance affirmed commitments to Afghanistan and to Afghanistan’s national security and defense forces has been reiterated. We also discussed the situation on the ground---Taliban violence has to go down, it is simply unacceptable and it is creating an issue, a problem for getting to the peace talks,” said the NATO envoy Stefano Pontecorvo.
The Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan (AIHRC) has also called on the warring factions to avoid further violence to help achieve peace in the country.
“The more the violence is increased, the more the pains and wounds are increased; this also makes it difficult to achieve peace and to attend the peace negotiating table,” said Shahrzada Akbar, the chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan (AIHRC).
Meanwhile, the US embassy Chargé d'Affaires Ross Wilson has said that there was an expectation that the level of violence in Afghanistan would have been reduced after the US-Taliban peace deal was signed on February 29 in Doha, but it didn’t happen like that and violence didn’t stop.
“We hope that...when this prisoners release is concluded--up to 5,000 Taliban by the Afghan government, up to a 1,000 by the Taliban---intra-Afghan negotiations can be begin,” said Ross Wilson.
Based on the government’s statistics, over the past one month, the Taliban initiated 1538 attacks on 32 provinces of the country.
The Office of National Security Council (ONSC) has said that 153 civilians have been killed as a result of the attacks by the Taliban.
Nevertheless, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that Kabul will host three important meetings on the Afghan peace process before the start of the intra-Afghan talks aimed at creating consensus at the regional and international levels.
“The first meeting will be convened on Monday with the attendance of delegates from 20 regional and major countries and the meeting will be inaugurated with a presidential speech---the second meeting will be held on Tuesday---it is a trilateral meeting between Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chinese government under the framework of the Strategic Dialogue,” said Geran Hewad, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Under the US-Taliban deal, the Afghan government has to released 5,000 Taliban prisoners before heading to the intra-Afghan talks. So far the Afghan government has released over 3,000 of these prisoners.
The Taliban have clarified that they will not attend the peace talks with the Afghan sides before the completion of the prisoners swap.
As part of goodwill gesture, the Taliban also pledged to release 1,000 Afghan government hostages.