Govt., Taliban at odds over prisoner swap completion


KABUL: The Afghan government and the Taliban have been crossing swords over the prisoner release process for the past week since the government announced all 5,000 Taliban inmates were set free, whereas the group’s narrative differs.

The Taliban and the Afghan government were expected to start peace negotiations within days after the prisoner exchange, a process that was completed on September 3 except for the release of seven controversial Taliban inmates whose freeing was objected by France and Australia. However, the talks are still lagging due to such quarrels between the warring sides. 

The insurgent group claim that the government still holds 100 of their inmates in jail. “Approximately 100 Taliban inmates are still in jail. Some have been released in the last 24 hours and we have been assured that those remaining will be released soon,” Mohammad Naeem Wardak, the newly-appointed spokesman for the Taliban’s Qatar office told Aljazeera on Wednesday.

Taliban have warned that they will not engage in the intra-Afghan talks unless the government released the alleged 100 prisoners.

On the other hand, the Afghan government rejects the Taliban’s claim that about 100 inmates are still in its custody. Presidential Spokesman Sidiq Siddiqi said all 5,000 prisoners on the insurgent group’s list have been freed.

Meanwhile, the National Security Council (NSC) spokesman, Javid Faisal, confirmed to Afghan Peace Watch (APW) that the prisoner exchange process was brought to an end last week. He admitted that the seven controversial inmates, who are supposed to be shifted to Doha under supervision, hadn’t been freed as well.