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Prisoner release issue continues to impede intra-Afghan talks

The Taliban says nearly 100 of its prisoners have not been released and that talks will begin only after they are freed

Doha, Qatar – The Afghan government has deliberately delayed the release of Taliban prisoners to impede the so-called intra-Afghan talks, Taliban officials have told Al Jazeera, as at least 100 inmates remain 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 spokesperson for Taliban’s political office in the Qatari capital, Doha, told “Our agreement is with the Americans and we have asked them to ensure that their side of the agreement is implemented. They keep giving us various reasons for the delay. We are ready to talk as soon as the prisoner release is complete,” Wardak said, referring to the agreement signed in February.

Talks between the Afghan warring sides aimed at lasting peace are expected to begin in the Qatari capital following the completion of the prisoner swap agreed as part of the United States-Taliban deal signed in Doha.The West-backed Afghan government has reluctantly released most of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners under pressure from the Trump administration, but is still holding some Taliban fighters who have serious charges against them.

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