Khalilzad blames Taliban for spike in violence

By: News Desk
Published: 11:32 AM, 2 May, 2020
Khalilzad blames Taliban for spike in violence
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The US envoy for Afghanistan’s peace, Zalmay Khalilzad, in tweets in the early hours of Saturday, said that civilians still suffer from the ongoing war in Afghanistan despite the fall in casualties.

Khalilzad, citing the UNAMA report for Afghanistan for Jan.-March 2020, tweeted: “Because of momentum created by the Reduction in Violence in late February, civilian casualties fell 29% from the same period last year and are lower than any 1st quarter since 2012.”

“But civilians still suffer from IEDs, targeted assassinations, and other consequences of the ongoing war. To protect them all sides must act now to end the violence,” Khalilzad said.

“But the recent increase in the number and lethality of Taliban attacks endanger these gains,” he said, adding that “this violence has generated a violent response from the ANDSF. The result is an escalatory cycle which is complex but inarguably a negative trend that must be reversed.”

He also said that both the Taliban and the government need to accelerate efforts to release prisoners and lower violence, which is the fastest means to intra-Afghan negotiations and a comprehensive permanent ceasefire.

“Delay means more civilian losses from Afghans fighting each other when the real war should be Afghans united against COVID-19,” he added.

Based on a presidential decree, at least 100 Taliban prisoners were expected to be released every day, but, after 50 days, only 500 prisoners have been released. The government says it has been delayed due to "complications" in the process.

The office of the National Security Council says that based on a presidential decree, so far, more than 550 Taliban prisoners have been released and at least 1,000 more will also be freed.

“The prisoners release is a complicated process that is going forward based on the presidential decree… 950 other prisoners will be released so that we can fight the coronavirus and move the peace process forward,” said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

The Taliban on Thursday said they released 52 prisoners, bringing the total of freed people to 112.

“There isn’t any will and commitment for peace,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, former Taliban commander. “Americans have not stayed committed to their commitments… I don’t think the intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon.”

The release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners was part of the peace agreement signed between the US and the Taliban in February.

The Taliban also committed in the agreement to release 1,000 members of the security forces under their custody.