The Taliban has rejected to participate in the intra-Afghan talks until the release of prisoners. In a statement, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told international media that no talks would proceed until the release of all 5000 prisoners. The development comes just two days after the United States and the Taliban signed the historic peace agreement to end the bloody war in Afghanistan that lasted for almost two decades.
"If our 5,000 prisoners - 100 or 200 more or less does not matter, do not get released there will be no intra-Afghan talks," Afghan media said quoting the Taliban. The US and Taliban representatives negotiated for almost 18 months in Doha, before signing the peace deal under multiple conditions.
The friction within the peace deal flared up on Monday after Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said that his government has not agreed to the prison swap with the Talibani prisoners. However, under the historic peace deal, 5,000 prisoners were expected to be released by the Afghan government, as a pre-condition for direct dialogue with the armed group.
"The government of Afghanistan has made no commitment to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners. It is not in the authority of the United States to decide, they are only a facilitator" Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told reporters in Kabul. The Taliban, in conflict with the democratic government, has often refused to sit down for talks calling it a "puppet regime."
Diplomats from the Afghanistan, United States, India, Pakistan and other members of the United Nations gathered alongside the Taliban representatives in Doha's Sheraton Hotel on February 29. The deal if signed, will end the 18-year-old long war of the United States in Afghanistan.
"The United States will reduce the number of US military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the US-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the US-Taliban agreement and will work with its allies and the Coalition to reduce proportionally the number of Coalition forces in Afghanistan over an equivalent period, subject to the Taliban’s fulfillment of its commitments under the US-Taliban agreement," the joint Afghan-US declaration read.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaking about the peace deal said that all contents in the agreement are 'conditions-based'. He added saying that the withdrawal of the foreign forces from the region will depend on the Taliban's fulfillment of their commitments. The Taliban had even ordered its fighters to refrain from any attacks.