Afghanistan’s Ghani Orders Release of 1,500 Taliban Prisoners

Release is being presented as an attempt to facilitate Taliban talks

Under the US-Taliban peace deal, direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were meant to begin March 10. That’s not happened so far, with the Taliban insisting on 5,000 prisoners being released first.
President Ghani sought a compromise on Tuesday, ordering 1,500 prisoners released in batches starting on Saturday. A government spokesman indicated that the whole 5,000 would be released if violence was reduced.

It’s not clear if this was a deal made with the Taliban to get the process going, or even if it will work. The Taliban ended the reduction of violence when the releases didn’t happen, and have not indicated if they’ll restart it now.

Afghan officials are presenting the move as an attempt to facilitate talks with the Taliban, though previous indications were that Ghani’s decree came at the behest of the US, and was done to secure Zalmay Khalilzad attending his inauguration on Monday.

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.