The Afghan government on May 26, Tuesday, announced that it would release 900 more Taliban prisoners. Afghanistan’s National Security Council spokesman Javid Faisal told AFP news agency that the exact number of prisoners, to be released on the same day, could vary based on the status of the legal proceedings against them. The announcement came during a mutual ceasefire between the government forces and Taliban fighters which began on Sunday and is to end on Tuesday midnight. The ceasefire was offered by the Taliban to mark the Muslim religious day of Eid ul Fitr.
The Afghan government has called on the Taliban to extend the ceasefire and said that it is ready and willing for an extension which may prevent further death and destruction in the country. Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani had, in response to the Taliban’s ceasefire offer, announced plans to release approximately 2,000 Taliban prisoners from government custody earlier on Sunday. On Monday, another 100 Taliban prisoners were released as a gesture of “goodwill” which the government hoped would act as a confidence building measure going into the intra-Afghan talks.
The intra-Afghan talks are a part of the Doha agreement between the United States and Taliban to negotiate an end to the almost 19 year-long conflict in Afghanistan. So far, the government has released close to 1,000 Taliban prisoners while about 300 Afghan security forces personnel have been released by Taliban in return. As per an agreement between the United States and Taliban signed in Qatari capital Doha in February 2020, the Afghan government was to release about 5,000 Taliban prisoners from its custody and the Taliban, in response, was to release approximately 1,000 Afghan security forces personnel.