Afghan Loya Jirga has approved the acquittal of 400 Taliban prisoners accused of being involved in heinous crimes, including murder.
The final session of the Loya Jirga was broadcast live on Afghan tv. Loya Jirga approved a 25-point resolution that includes proposals aimed at intensifying efforts for the peace process.
The secretary of the Jirga, Atifa Tayeb, said, “The Jirga members fully welcome and support the peace process in order to bring durable peace and stability in the country.”
While reading the second clause of the resolution, the secretary said, “In order to remove the obstacle impeding the peace negotiations, and to stop the bloodshed, the Jirga decides to approve the acquittal of 400 Taliban prisoners for the welfare of Afghanistan’s people.”
The Loya Jirga that continued for three days was represented by 3400 people from 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
Taliban had already indicated that possibility of Intra-Afghan talks only if the government would release these remaining 400 prisoners.
It should be noted that in his address to the Jirga, President Ashraf Ghani said that it would be difficult for the Jirga to decide the fate of these 400 Taliban who are accused of committing heinous crimes like murder and drug trafficking.
Ghani further said that the US-Taliban agreement signed on February 29, did not explicitly mention regarding which 5000 Taliban prisoners were to be released.
In his address, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah said,
“It’s their misconception if they (Taliban) they can win by force. The last 40 years have witnessed that they could not win by force.”
However, Abdullah defended the meeting of the Loya Jirga by saying,
“We’re bound to take people’s opinion and respect their decision. Afghanistan is currently undergoing a very critical phase, and this decision is a do-and-die decision for the Afghan people.”
According to the Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, “Taliban have released around 898 officials belonging to Kabul administration, while the Afghan government has released 4170 Taliban prisoners.”
The Taliban spokesman said the Intra-Afghan dialogues are at mere stone’s distance once the remaining prisoners are released.
With the release of the Taliban prisoners, the ball would be in the court of the militant group whose formidability has been universally acknowledged by now.
The next step has two aspects; one includes the Taliban and the other involving all the other stakeholders, including the Afghan government and the US.
Intra-Afghan is expected soon, but it will expose the Afghan government as a weaker spouse in traditional oriental marriage.
In any case, the Taliban are likely to lead and define the future course of the Afghan politics amid the Kabul government that is too weak to make its opposition count and the US that is too embarrassed or fatigued (or both) by the war to return.
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