In Afghanistan Sides Are Releasing Prisoners To Fulfill The Peace Deal

Afghanistan and the Taliban are currently in the process of establishing peace that was tailored by the United States. Under the peace deal made by the U.S. and Taliban, the Afghan government began freeing Taliban members from their prisons. On May 19th, more than 900 prisoners were freed and on 24th Afghan President, Ashraf Ghani ordered the release up to 2,000 prisoners. By doing so, Ghani voiced his desire to extend the three-day ceasefire that was established on 24th for the Eid al-Fitr holiday that ends the Ramadan. However, the ceasefire was not extended. And before the ceasefire was over Taliban attacked and killed 14 members of the Afghan army.

Sides were hopeful about the possibility of creating peace. The spokesperson for the office of Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor, Javid Faisal said that extension of peace would be “for better management of the prisoner issue,” and announced that Afghan powers were ready to extend it. Taliban spokesperson Suhail Sahheen, in a tweet, welcomed the release of 900 prisoners and said that the Taliban in return will free a “remarkable number” of prisoners. But he did not comment on extending the cease-fire. Kabul locals were also pleased with the cease-fire. A Kabul resident Mirwais told CBS today “I felt so happy that I could go out without any tension of suicide attacks. I wish this continues so we can enjoy peace.” Even the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said that this truce “presents a tremendous opportunity for Afghan to overcome other obstacles and move urgently to intra-Afghan negotiations that end the war.” There was hope that this step was going to strengthen the peace between sides. After the attack, Faisal said “the ceasefire is not over yet; there have been violations because it is a complicated technical process that requires good coordination between both sides” and again urged the Taliban to extend the three-day ceasefire. Against Faisal’s comment, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said the Afghan government had carried out air raids on Wednesday despite the group not attacking.

Rather it was all due to a miscommunication or failure to coordinate but this shows that the Afghan government and Taliban still have a long way to create peace in the region. They should establish a better relationship and build trust to stay in peace once the US and NATO armies withdraw from Afghanistan. Yet, the U.S. should work on these two sides’ trust-building process. It is clear that the peace deal is discussed between Taliban and the U.S., and the Afghan government is not a part of this deal however the Western-built Afghan government seems to be following what is suggested by the U.S. which creates concern about the future decision-making process by the Afghan government and Taliban’s actions.

The peace deal between the U.S. and the Taliban was signed in February. Under the deal, the Afghan government would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners, and the Taliban would free 1,000 Afghan security forces personnel. However, this process was delayed when Afghan President, Ghani refused to free all 5,000 prisoners at once. For now, 3,000 Taliban prisoners and 347 captured Afghan soldiers were released. As sides continue following the peace agreement, then the U.S. forces will continue to withdraw its forces. The aim is to withdraw completely by the second quarter of 2021 and end the 19-year-old war.

The attack accusations from each side make it seem like it will take a long time untill sides trust each other fully and live without conflict in Afghanistan. The U.S. has a great responsibility as the broker of the peace deal. And as a militant group that terrorized the region, the Taliban needs to gain the trust of the people. As the activist and political ethnographer, Orzala Nemat said regarding the militant group “We KNOW your capacity to KILL, now show us your capacity to kindness & peace.”