Loya Jirga Continues Over Release of Remaining Taliban Prisoners

A few days ago, Kabul administration head, president Ashraf Ghani called for ‘Loya Jirga’. A traditional public meeting. It started on Friday. President Ghani while calling for Loya Jirga argued that he cannot free the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners because they are convicted of serious crimes. Moreover, he can’t set them free without consulting the nation.

Additionally, according to Afghan officials, more than 3000 delegates, including tribal leaders, elders, and politicians are attending Jirga. Around 700 women are also attending this grand meeting. The meeting is likely to go on for several more days.

Taliban rejected the call for Loya Jirga

On the other hand, the Taliban rejected Ghani’s argument stating this another tactic to slow down the peace process. In a statement released by Taliban said that the “Afghan government’s move to convene a Loya Jirga about the fate of 400 prisoners has “no legal grounds”. That all factions should avoid creating obstacles in the way of the peace process”

The statement reads: “That the (Afghan govt) has decided to summon a supposed Loya Jirga under the pretext of deciding the fate of 400 prisoners. They could use it as a tool against the peace and wishes of the nation. Hence, convening such a Jirga before reaching comprehensive peace and political settlement can in no way be representative of the people. Or hold any legal status because the (Afghan govt) itself is illegitimate.”

“Every decision that opposes Afghan sovereignty, the establishment of a complete Islamic system and aspirations of the people will never be acceptable to the Afghan nation,” the statement said.

America’s response

America welcomed the grand meeting. In a statement of Secretary Pompeo on the Loya Jirga in Afghanistan released by the US embassy. Pompeo commended the participants of the grand meeting. This statement was distributed to participants of the grand meeting with Pushto translation.

He urged participants to work for peace and play their role in the release of remaining Taliban prisoners.
“We understand that they will decide on the expeditious release of the remaining Taliban prisoners from their list, the last obstacle to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.  Following the timely release of these prisoners, the Taliban have committed to enter talks with the national team. Representing the strength and diversity of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” statement says.

Pompeo Appreciated the Taliban’s commitment

Furthermore, he appreciated the Taliban’s commitment to peace. “The Taliban have also committed to significantly reduce violence and casualties during the talks where the parties will decide on a political roadmap to end the long and brutal war and agree on a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.

Jirga likely to act in favor of prisoners’ release

According to sources, the Grand meeting will side with the American wish to release the remaining Taliban prisoners to finally start the Intra-Afghan dialogue. Previously a member from Farah province was expelled from the meeting. As he brought a placard against the release of Taliban prisoners.

Similarly, Afghanistan’s Chief peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah also signaled this release. He emphasized “Honest and direct talks” saying this is the only way toward conflict resolution.

Fifty Committees established

Jirga has established fifty committees out of which 33 have completed their work. The remaining committees will submit their report by the end of the day. Heads of these fifty will debate on the reports at the end of the second session of this grand meeting. The final official decision will be made public tomorrow.

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