While the decision of the Afghan government to release three senior Taliban prisoners in exchange for two American University scholars held by the Taliban sparked criticism by some, it will be an important step to build trust between the radical group and Kabul in their peace talks, Sputnik learned from experts and professionals on WednesdayKABUL (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 13th November, 2019) While the decision of the Afghan government to release three senior Taliban prisoners in exchange for two American University scholars held by the Taliban sparked criticism by some, it will be an important step to build trust between the radical group and Kabul in their peace talks, Sputnik learned from experts and professionals on Wednesday.
In a video address on Tuesday morning, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the intent to release three Taliban members from the Haqqani militant group Anas Haqqani, Abdul Rashid and Haji Mali Khan in exchange for the freeing of lecturers from the United States and Australia who are currently being held captive by the Taliban. The militants will be flown to Qatar in preparation for the swap.
"First, they needed [to achieve a] ceasefire, then restart peace talks and during this period the Taliban prisoners would be released. Now, there are no peace talks and no ceasefire, so why the prisoners were released?" Afghan Senator Mohiuddin Munsif said at an assembly of Afghanistan's upper house.
He added that the move demonstrated the distrust of the government toward the Taliban. Yet, a diametrically opposite opinion has been voiced by military analyst and retired General Atiqullah Amarkhil, who welcomed the prisoners' exchange.
"The whole world is happy with the exchange, which is a good step to build trust for peace and sends a message to the Taliban and to the international [community] that Afghans do not kill anyone and do not get happy when someone loses their life," Amarkhail told Sputnik.
The so-called intra-Afghan talks are being called in a bid to untangle the confrontation between the government and the Taliban movement, which has been struggling to achieve recognition since being overthrown by the forces of an international UN-mandated coalition of troops almost two decades ago. Ghani has repeatedly suggested pathways to recognizing the Taliban as a political party and engaging in peace talks, but the matter is in a deadlock.
With the peace talks in limbo, abductions have been a typical warfare method of the Taliban, along with rape, bombings and similar atrocities. US national Kevin King and Australian national Timothy Weeks were kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016 in Kabul, where they were working for the American University.