The grand assembly of Afghanistan – the Loya Jirga on Sunday approved the release of 400 hard-core Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture ahead of the beginning of peace talks with Islamic terrorist group Taliban intending to end the country’s worst civil war that has been going on for more than 19 years.
According to the reports, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had convened the assembly in the capital Kabul, in which some 3,200 Afghan community leaders and politicians had gathered to advise the government on whether the prisoners should be freed.
“In order to remove an obstacle, allow the start of the peace process and an end of bloodshed, the Loya Jirga approves the release of 400 Taliban,” the assembly said in a resolution. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said, “Today, I will sign the release order of these 400 prisoners.”
A loya jirga is a special type of legal assembly, that brings together representatives from the various ethnic, religious, and tribal communities in Afghanistan. It is a highly respected centuries-old consultative body, which is considered the highest expression of the Afghan people.
Earlier, the Taliban terrorists had asserted that the release of these terrorists was a necessary pre-condition for entering peace talks with the government. With the release, the Afghan government will fulfil its pledge to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
Reportedly, the talks between the warring parties will start in Doha this week.
Meanwhile, the proposition of Afghanistan government releasing the last batch of Taliban prisoners, who are accused of carrying out some of the bloodiest attacks across Afghanistan, had triggered massive outrage among civilians and rights groups who questioned the morality of the peace process.
US President intends to achieve peace process by 2020 elections
However, ahead of November elections, US President Donald Trump is determined to achieve the peace process and fulfil one of his major campaign promise of ending America’s longest war in Afghanistan.
Once both the parties agree to a peace deal, the US forces will be brought down to “a number less than 5,000”, as said by Defence secretary Mark Esper on Saturday.
In a February pact allowing for the withdrawal of US troops, the US government and the Taliban had agreed on the release of the Taliban prisoners as a condition for the talks with Kabul.