Afghan government to release one hundred Taliban detainees

The Afghan government is set to release one hundred Taliban detainees on humanitarian grounds by the end of today. The

afghan prisoner swap

Photo: Reuters

The Afghan government is set to release one hundred Taliban detainees on humanitarian grounds by the end of today.

The decision to only release one hundred prisoners, far less than the Taliban demanded, is casting new doubt on the prospect of a peace deal between Kabul and the Islamist insurgent group. During a recent teleconference meeting, the Taliban demanded, and the Afghani government agreed to, a prisoner exchange deal in which Kabul would release 5,000 detained insurgents by March 10. The Taliban previously agreed during a February 29 meeting in Doha to release 1,000 of its own prisoners.

The prospect that the Taliban will be drawn closer to the negotiating table over the prisoner exchange appears increasingly unlikely. As recently as last Saturday, the insurgent group rejected an offer to begin talks with a government negotiating team and launched attacks on several northern Afghani provinces.

Pressure from Washington to reach a peace deal and the impending threat of a COVID-19 outbreak in the country—Afghanistan has at least 120 confirmed cases of the virus to date—will likely continue to incentivise the Taliban to put pressure on embattled Kabul by ramping up hostilities and further toying with peace negotiations.

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