Afghan government has freed a total of 900 Taliban inmates on May 26 to further advance the intra- Afghan peace talks, a spokesperson for the Office of the National Security Council reportedly confirmed. According to the international media reports, this move came amidst the Taliban militants announcing a three-day ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr festival, which would take place from Sunday. Taliban militants have reportedly agreed to extend the ceasefire for another four days or more. Spokesman Javid Faisal tweeted, "The government released 900 Taliban prisoners today to further advance peace efforts, including an extended ceasefire and the immediate start of intra-Afghan peace talks".
The Government released 100 Taliban prisoners from Parwan today as a gesture of goodwill to advance peace efforts, including an extended ceasefire and the immediate start of direct talks. pic.twitter.com/i34W60FLYi— Javid Faisal (@Javidfaisal) May 25, 2020
According to the reports, the government released 100 Taliban militants from Bagram prison in eastern Parwan province on Monday. Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani reportedly issued a decree on March 11 to release about 5000 Taliban inmates on parole. On the other hand, Taliban also agreed to release 1000 soldiers but the process got delayed. The Taliban official reportedly said, "If these developments, like the announcement of prisoner release continues, it is possible to move forward with decisions like extending the brief cease-fire and to move in a positive direction with some minor issues". The prisoner release is part of the U.S. deal with the Taliban, signed on Feb. 29 to allow for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan, bringing to an end the country's protracted war and America’s longest military involvement.
Pres. Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid.The AFG Gov is extending the offer of peace and is taking further steps to ensure success of the peace process. pic.twitter.com/So0UEB5Bpi— Sediq Sediqqi (@SediqSediqqi) May 24, 2020
This is only the second time that both sides have agreed to not carry out any attacks and maintain a temporary truce since 2001. The United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reportedly had travelled to Kabul and Doha just days before the three-day ceasefire was announced. He has welcomed the declaration as “momentous opportunity”. Earlier, Khalilzad reportedly had urged both the Taliban and Afghanistan government to refrain from violence and move ahead with the peace negotiations.