Intra-Afghan talks must start at once, says NSC


KABUL: The National Security Council (NSC) on Thursday said that the prisoner exchange process was completed as all controversial Taliban inmates were set free except for seven prisoners whose release would be discussed through diplomatic channels with the countries objecting the matter.

The NSC on its Twitter handle wrote that the Taliban released all the Afghan commandos demanded by the government, and in return, the government also freed the remaining contentious prisoners of the insurgent group.

NSC says all hurdles facing peace negotiations have been removed; therefore, the intra-Afghan talks should start promptly.

However, it added that only seven of the total 5,000 Taliban prisoners, who are accused of killing foreign nationals, were still in custody but their release would be discussed with Australia and France, two states which have protested their release.

Based on the peace agreement signed between the Taliban and US on February 29, the Afghan government was supposed to release 5,000 Taliban inmates and the insurgent group 1,000 government detainees in return in order to pave way for the intra-Afghan talks.

Wahidullah Wasiq, a pro-Taliban Twitter user, while expressing joy over the release of the final 400 hardcore Taliban prisoners believed that the seven remaining inmates of the group would also be released and handed over in a special ceremony to Taliban officials in Qatar.

The prisoner swap was expected to complete in March but was repeatedly delayed due to disagreements between the Taliban and the government over the process.