The Taliban fighters have threatened to resume attacks against government forces just days after inking a deal with United States in a bid to bring peace to their country. The pact included a promise made by the hardliners to not only end violence but also initiate Intra-Afghan dialogue after signing the agreement. However, the Group’s spokesman on Monday announced that the talks would not go forward if 5,000 imprisoned Taliban don’t get released by the Afghan government.
The release of the prisoners was included in the agreement signed between the parties on Saturday in Qatar.
“There is no commitment of releasing 5,000 prisoners,” said President Ghani. “This is the right and self-will of the people of Afghanistan. It could be included in the agenda of the intra-Afghan talks, but cannot be prerequisite for talks.”
The militants recently struck a deal with United States on Saturday and didn’t reconcile with the Afghan government. Taliban who were ruling almost all the country were ousted from the power corridors after US invasion in the aftermath of 9/11 and have since then emerged as an insurgent force with a very violent past track-record. As of 2018, the far-right group has footprints in more than two-thirds of the Afghanistan.
The Taliban spokesman talking to Reuters said their group will not hesitate to target Afghan forces but would respect the agreement vis-à-vis international troops on their soil. Zabihullah Mujahid’s statement contradicted Ghani’s comments on Sunday in which he claimed that the truce was set to continue with a goal to reach a full ceasefire.
Talking to Reuters, Mujahid will not be part of any talks with government if their 5,000 government-held comrades are not set free.
“We are fully ready for the intra-Afghan talks, but we are waiting for the release of our 5,000 prisoners,” he said. “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.”
Around 10,000 Taliban militants are estimated to be in the captivity of the Afghan state. BBC correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan commenting on the Taliban’s statement said it is not clear whether the group will resume their attacks or is it just the pressure tactics employed to achieve the release of the fellow fighters.
General Scott Miller, the US forces commander in Afghanistan said the truce and as a result the reduction of violence was a confidence builder. “We are very serious about our obligations and we expect the Taliban will be serious about their obligations. The United States has been very clear about our expectations – the violence must remain low,” he added.
Saturday’s deal agreed the withdrawal of US and its Nato allies from Afghan soil within 14 months, if the Taliban comply with the points made in the pact and remain steadfast with their commitments. Around 12,000 US soldiers are still active in the landlocked country.
United States President Donald Trump earlier on Saturday said that it was “time to bring our people back home”.
Trump also committed that 5,000 US soldiers would return to their home by May and showed his will to meet with Taliban leadership in the near future. Adding that their troops had been killing terrorists in Afghanistan “by the thousands” and now its was “time for someone else to do that work and its will be the Taliban and it could be surrounding countries”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday told CBS news that the reconciliation process between Afghan government and Taliban will follow in coming days.
Amid all the negotiations and dialogue drumbeating, the people of Afghanistan will have to wait for the peace and prosperity in their country where peace is a desire and dream that may come true one day. One can only hope!