Afghan Taliban Spokesperson make important announcement over the peace deal

Afghan Taliban Spokesperson make important announcement over the peace deal

ISLAMABAD - Taliban link political spokesman Suhail Shaheen Friday said Taliban will not take part in intra-Afghan dialogue if their prisoners are not released.

The proposed talks involving Afghan parties to the conflict, due to open on March 10, are central to the US-Taliban peace agreement.

Shaheen said if the provisions of the agreement are implemented and prisoners are released, Taliban are prepared for intra-Afghan negotiations on March 10. “Our negotiation team and agenda are ready and will go ahead as agreed. If the negotiations are delayed beyond the stated date, the responsibility will rest with the others,” he tweeted.

Up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners and up to 1,000 captives of the other side are to be released by March 10, the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations, under the Taliban-US peace agreement signed in Qatar on Feb 29.

President Ashraf Ghani has refused to free the Taliban prisoners and insisted that it should not be a condition for the start of intra-Afghan dialogue. He insists prisoners issue should be discussed during the intra-Afghan negotiations.

President Donald Trump in his telephonic conversation with political deputy and chief of political office of Taliban Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will soon talk with President Ghani in order to remove all the hurdles facing the intra-Afghan negotiations.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Wednesday for the first time after signing of the agreement with the Taliban to prepare grounds for the intra-Afghan negotiations. He is encouraging the Afghan leaders to agree on a consensus list of participants.

Presidential spokesman Dawa Khan Meenapal had told Afghan media that the government had prepared a list of 15 people but not yet made public names of the participants. Meenapal said another team of heads of major political parties would be prepared which would take decisions in accordance with the intra-Afghan talks.

Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah also hinted at announcing his list of delegates to the dialogue with the Taliban.

In a series of tweets, Khalilzad Thursday said the US is committed to facilitating prisoner exchange agreed in both US-Taliban agreement and US-Afghanistan joint declaration. “We will support each side to release significant numbers,” he said, as he discussed the need to decrease violence and the exchange of prisoners with Afghan leaders. He said the US is committed to expedite release of Taliban prisoners to take the peace process forward.

Controversy over release of prisoners and Afghan government’s inability to announce participants for the negotiations with the Taliban reflects the challenges that can complicate and prolong dialogue among Afghan leaders.