The Taliban do not accept a decree by President Ashraf Ghani on the release of the prisoners, sources close to the group said on Thursday, two days after Ghani signed an order to conditionally pardon and release Taliban prisoners to open the door for intra-Afghan talks.
According to the sources, the Taliban believes that Ghani’s decree about the release of the prisoners goes against the provisions of the peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in Doha on February 29.
The Taliban will not attend intra-Afghan talks before the release of 5,000 prisoners, said the sources.
Meanwhile, Ghani in his latest statement said that the Afghan peace negotiating team will enter into dialogue with the Taliban.
“The peace negotiating team will enter into talks on behalf of the government and the people,” said Ghani on Thursday.
“The peace process is a lengthy process; the process requires implementation and patience. At the same time, the voice of the people will be heard, as I said before, at the end of the negotiations, a final decision will be taken on the talks with the Taliban either by the parliament of the country, the Loya Jirga or in a referendum,” added Ghani.
The Presidential Palace has said that the release of prisoners will be conditional and it will be carried out according to a timeline that will take four to five months.
“The agreement between the US and the Taliban states that the US will facilitate the release of the Taliban prisoners. The agreement does not say anything about the preconditions that were highlighted by Dr. Ashraf Ghani,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a university professor in Kabul.
Ghani’s decree states the following:
According to the first part of the decree, which was released to the media on Wednesday, the prisoners that will be released will be required to make a written commitment not to return to the war. The prisoners will be released after a biometric process.
The second part of the decree states that the release of the 1,500 Taliban is a goodwill gesture and the process will be started on March 14 at Parwan prisons. Each day, 100 Taliban prisoners will be released and their age, health status, and remaining sentence time will be considered.
The third portion said that with the beginning of the direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, every two weeks 500 Taliban prisoners will be released--provided that a major reduction in violence continues--until 3,500 more are released.
And article four of the decree said the National Security Council has the responsibility to implement this decree.
What critics really say?
“The decree and the preconditions in it are in contrast to the agreement,” said Mawlana Jalaluddin Shinwari, ex-attorney general in the former Taliban regime.
According to the Presidential Palace, the government is undertaking consultations with the Afghan political leaders and parties about forming an inclusive peace negotiating team.
“The list will be created in a joint consultation with Dr. Abdullah, Mr. Karzai, Mr. Hekmatyar and other politicians. But the part which is related to the Arg (Presidential Palace) has not been completed,” said Haji Din Mohammad, a member of the High Peace Council.
The head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has said that the rights body was not consulted about the structure of the peace negotiating team.
“We were not consulted about the peace negotiating team,” said Shahrzad Akbar, the head of the AIHRC.
“Our efforts are focused on the establishment of an inclusive delegation which is able to represent the Islamic republic of Afghanistan,” said Omid Maisam, deputy spokesman to Abdullah Abdullah.