The Afghanistan government on April 2 said that it will release 100 Taliban terrorists from jails adding that in exchange the group will release 20 Afghan security force members. According to reports, the prisoners' swap is part of the confidence-building exercise between the two major stakeholders in the country. The prisoners' swap was part of the peace deal that was signed between the United States and the Taliban on February 29 in Doha, Qatar.
Taliban had earlier declined the intra-Afghan talks with the government after President Ashraf Ghani refused to release prisoners, which he said was never part of their agenda. Ghani later agreed to release 1,500 prisoned Taliban terrorists in order to initial talks. Late on March 10, Afghan President's spokesperson announced, "President Ghani has signed the decree that would facilitate the release of the Taliban prisoners in accordance with an accepted framework for the start of negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government."
The United States and the Taliban signed the peace deal after 20 years of war and 18 months of negotiations. The deal which was signed in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan would see the gradual withdrawal of US and NATO troops from Afghanistan under a timeline of 14 months. The deal also requires Afghanistan to guarantee that their land will not be used as a launchpad that would threaten the security of the United States and its allies.
The deal was signed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar with Mike Pompeo as a witness. As per reports, more than 1,00,000 Afghan citizens have lost their lives or wounded since 2009 when the UN Assistance Mission began documenting casualties, while the US has lost over 2,000 personnel to the war since 2001.
(Image Credit: AP)