President Ashraf Ghani in a message to security forces broadcast on government TV on Thursday morning said that “all barriers and excuses have been removed” ahead of the intra-Afghan talks.
He also urged the Taliban to reduce violence and to be a part of the peace process, saying: “Peace with dignity and long-lasting peace will come.”
“We have prepared all conditions for a peace with dignity,” he said.
“We have met all conditions for a peace with dignity,” Ghani said. “We have shown our will and our commitment,” he said, citing the release of the Taliban prisoners and holding the Loya Jirga.
He called on the Taliban to accept the ceasefire and to start negotiations with the Afghan government soon.
“We want to bring a peace so that all the tribes of Afghanistan live together in a peaceful and secure atmosphere,” he added.
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.
In a separate but related issue, according to sources, the US is now in talks with the Australian and French governments who recently opposed the release of at least six of these high-value Taliban prisoners who are accused of being involved in the killing of these nations' citizens in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in an interview with UK's The Times has warned that the release of Taliban prisoners will hit the UK with a new wave of drugs if a final batch of Taliban fighters are released from prison under the conditions of the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in Doha on February 29.
“If drugs go through the roof in the United Kingdom and Europe, all your leaders have been part of this,” Ghani said, quoted by The Times as saying.
“If amphetamines reach the shores of the United States, we should know that these are the consequences, and if these people commit crimes, there’s shared international responsibility.” He said.
“The ceasefire will be the first item of the agenda when direct discussions---negotiations between the delegation of the Islamic republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban begin, now we will see what the Taliban truly believe, unfortunately, peace is not been socialized among their commanders and among their fighters, so its an important juncture and I hope they will make the right choice,” stated Ghani.
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--the peace talks that are now expected to be held in Doha.