Afghan President Ghani to Release 1,000 Taliban Prisoners in New Decree

Releases reportedly done to get US endorsement for inauguration

The fate of intra-Afghan peace talks is resting heavily on prisoner releases. The US-Taliban peace deal promised the Taliban 5,000 prisoners would be released, but the Ghani government declined, noting they’d never agreed to that with the US.

Ghani is now planning to issue an edict, and those familiar say it will announce the release of around 1,000 of the Taliban, with an emphasis on the elderly and those whose sentences were nearly over.

On the one hand, this is being presented as a move to reassure the Taliban. Officials, however, say the decree was made primarily in return for US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad attending Ghani’s inauguration, giving the appearance of US support. This is important because Ghani was one of two self-proclaimed presidents having an inauguration today.

The Taliban has yet to respond to these reports, so it remains to be seen if they’ll go along with getting 1,000 prisoners as the start of peace talks. The US presumably is hoping that’s the case, as they’d have had no other reason to push this effort.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.