Kabul:Just one day after the United States and the Taliban militant group signed a peace agreement, Afghanistan’s government has announced that it does not consider itself bound by the terms of the deal to free thousands of Taliban prisoners.
The agreement was reached between Washington and the Afghan militants in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, after at least 10 rounds of talks over the past 18 months. The accord was signed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
As a condition for talks with the Afghan government, the deal noted that 5,000 Taliban prisoners would be freed in exchange for up to 1,000 Afghan government captives by March 10.
But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told reporters at a news conference in Kabul on Sunday that his government had no commitment to release the Taliban prisoners as stated in the deal.
The Taliban’s demand for the release of its prisoners from Afghan jails cannot be a precondition to direct talks with the government, Ghani added.
The US has agreed to cut down the number of its troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the deal. Washington has also agreed to withdraw all its forces from the country in 14 months provided that it sees no hostilities from the Taliban.
However, representatives from the Kabul government were not present during the Doha deal and a meeting was instead held in Kabul, where the Afghan president and the Pentagon chief issued a joint declaration. The NATO chief was also present.
The joint declaration calls on the sides to work together to reach a comprehensive and sustainable peace deal to end the war in Afghanistan for the benefit of all Afghans.
According to the declaration, the peace deal will guarantee to prevent the use of Afghan soil by any international terrorist groups against the US security; will present a timeline for the withdrawal of all US and NATO forces; will secure a political settlement through intra-Afghan dialog; and will enforce a permanent ceasefire.
NATO, despite not being part of the agreement, will conform with the future peace deal and gradually pull its troops out of the country.