(Karachi) Hoping to take peace talks forward, Afghanistan government has decided to release more Taliban prisoners after the militant group handed over a revised list of several hundred of their detainees to the government.
An Afghan government official said that Taliban had provided them another list of their detainees. "The release process will continue but direct talks should also start immediately," he added.
The Taliban want the Afghan government to release 600 prisoners from a total of 5,000 but the disagreement has prevented the launch of US-brokered peace talks.
The Afghan government had made it clear to the Taliban leadership that it does not want to release some prisoners for security reasons and its Western allies also object to some of them being set free.
A few days ago, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani warned that Taliban violence is threatening the country's peace process. "If the Taliban continue fighting, the Afghan peace process will face serious challenges," he stated.
"Unfortunately, the current level of violence is higher compared to last year," Ghani mentioned.
Last year, the US officials and Taliban representatives inked an agreement after months of negotiations in Qatar's capital Doha that aimed to end the United States's longest war, fought in Afghanistan since 2001.
The pact was signed in the presence of leaders from Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The agreement paved the way for the US to gradually withdraw its troops.
The two sides have long wrangled over the US demand for a ceasefire before the signing of the agreement, which has four points: a timeline of 14 months for the withdrawal of all US and NATO troops from Afghanistan; a Taliban guarantee that Afghan soil will not be used as a launchpad that would threaten the security of the US; the launch of intra-Afghan negotiations by March 10; and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.