Taliban Rejects Afghanistan’s Two-Phase Prisoner Release Plan

Intra-Afghan talks cancelled until all prisoners are freed

The Taliban has responded to a decree by President Ashraf Ghani, who offered a slow prisoner releases to get peace talks started, by rejecting the idea as not consistent with the deal the Taliban signed, and saying there will be no intra-Afghan talks until the 5,000 prisoners they were promised get released.

The US-Taliban peace deal called for 5,000 prisoners to be released. President Ghani only had an agreement with the US to look into releases, and refused to release 5,000. His new plan is to release a few hundred at a time and eventually get to 1,500. They say if violence goes down they are open to expanding it to 5,000.

Ghani will be releasing prisoners who are closer to the end of their sentences first, and more elderly prisoners. Ghani’s decree was made as a condition for the US sending attendees to his inauguration on Monday.

It could be many months before the prisoner release gets to the point where the Taliban will consider it a fulfilled promise. What this will mean to the US pullout is unclear, but it seems likely that the US will be deep into a withdrawal from Afghanistan before the first intra-Afghan talks can happen.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.