Study finds released Taliban prisoners returning to battlefield
Taliban prisoners released by the Afghan government over the past few weeks are returning to the battlefield as commanders and fighters in contravention of the Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban, Foreign Policy reports.
According to the article, the majority of Taliban prisoners released are taking up arms to fight Afghan forces in a bid to overthrow the government.
Foreign Policy reports that in an unpublished paper written for the Afghan Peace Dialogue Project by Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Taliban experts Michael Semple and Felix Kuehn found that former Taliban prisoners were “participating in combat, being killed fighting, being taken prisoner and one case of an ex-prisoner being involved with revenge assassinations.”
The report stated that 68 percent, of the 108 former Taliban prisoners profiled for the research “have already been re-integrated into the Taliban and have resumed active roles in the conflict, or are in Taliban groups intent on resuming fighting, or are occupying military or political positions which are fundamentally linked to the Taliban war effort.”
The paper written on the issue states: “A number of ex-prisoners have been appointed to direct command positions since their release.”
“Two ex-prisoners have reassumed their former military command positions where brothers or sons had taken over temporarily. … A number have already assumed oﬃcial positions within the Taliban shadow administration. The appointment of ex-prisoners as uluswals—which are essentially in charge of military aﬀairs and oversee civilian matters at a district level—is now widespread.”
Foreign Policy reported that eight percent interviewed wanted to return to battle but were being held back by family opposition while a further 24 percent “will categorically not rejoin the conflict” for various reasons, mainly because they wished to return to civilian life.
Foreign Policy stated a senior Afghan official, who did not wish to be identified, said the report’s findings “comport with what we have observed.”
This comes after the Afghan government confirmed this week that over 5,000 Taliban prisoners had been released as per the Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban that was signed in February and which was a precondition to peace talks.
In addition, six Afghan National Defense Force Commandos in Taliban custody were also freed paving the way for much hoped-for negotiations between the two sides.
All indications point towards initial talks starting within the next few days in Doha but no firm details have yet been released.
However, since the signing of the Doha agreement, the Taliban has held back on attacking US and NATO troops or installations but it has escalated violence around the country – specifically targeting Afghan military bases and carrying out targeted assassinations.
However, the Queen’s University paper states that there is no question of the prisoners “returning” to the Taliban as by definition they never left and are obliged to continue “jihad.”
By sending released prisoners back to the battlefield, regional Taliban leaders were complying with a directive of their senior leader “to refrain from placing obstacles to the progress of the jihad.
“Some Taliban interviewed understood the stance that prisoners should not return to the ﬁght, as a deliberate deception. … They understood that pretending that prisoners would not be allowed to return to ﬁght was a necessary price to be paid for ensuring that the prisoner release continued,” the researchers wrote.
Former minister Tahir Zuhair calls on Afghans abroad to return home
Tahir Zuhair, a former minister in the previous government has called on Afghans who left the country to return home and urged those who are intent on driving conflict to resolve problems through dialogue.
Speaking at a gathering on Monday in Samangan province, Zuhair also called for unity among the people and for inclusion of all ethnic groups within the government structure.
Samangan officials, who attended the gathering organized to welcome Zuhair into the IEA, called on other key citizens to help develop the country by returning home.
Zuhair has now joined the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA). He said: “All those who left should come back and instead of calling each other bad [names] and spreading hatred, let’s find a way of understanding, let’s reconcile, let’s make peace, let’s negotiate and solve our problems through dialogue.”
Samangan provincial authorities reiterated calls for Afghans who fled the country to return.
“I am very sad for our Afghan brothers who have gone abroad, or those brothers who have fled to the mountains. Our request to all of them is that the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has announced general amnesty, so return to your country and homeland, you are all our brothers,” said Abdulahad Fazli, governor of Samangan province.
“My message to all the opponents of the Islamic Emirate is to use the general amnesty decree of the leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to come and unite with the Islamic Emirate and use their energy, strength and understanding in the direction of consolidating the Islamic Emirate and in the direction of settling the country together with us,” said Ahmadullah Badar, Samangan police chief.
“Our message to all those who have gone abroad is that the arms of the Islamic Emirate are open to them to return to their country and serve for the development of the country,” said Mohammad Hashim Shafiq, provincial head of intelligence.
Zuhair meanwhile also said the Islamic Emirate needs to provide security and pave the way for the return of other political and social figures.
Zuhair said however that he has no intention of working in government.
Zuhair was the governor of Bamiyan before becoming the minister of information and culture under the previous government.
IEA’s Ebad tells G5 meeting in Iran no female worker banned in health sector
Health Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Dr. Qalandar Ebad said on Saturday that no female worker has been banned from working in the health sector.
Speaking at the 26th G5 High Level Experts Meeting on Health Cooperation in Tehran, Ebad denied the rumors and called it work of some selfish groups.
“Some selfish circles sometimes spread rumors with the intention of confusing the minds of the society that female health workers are banned from work; while all female workers provide health services to their compatriots in the light of Islamic and Sharia rules to ensure the health of female patients, mothers and children,” Ebad told the meeting.
Ebad also stated that cooperation in the field of health was important, especially in controlled infectious diseases.
“Diseases do not know borders, we must fight such types of phenomenon together,” Ebad said.
Ebad also spoke about the developments and achievements in the health sector and said that the public health ministry has now provided health services in areas where there had been none for years.
“We have now provided the opportunity to provide health services to our compatriots in these areas, in some areas there is still work to be done, so coordination and assistance is needed in this area,” Ebad said.
He also added that Afghanistan is a leading country in the implementation of the Corona vaccine and has made significant achievements in carrying out other routine vaccination and polio vaccination campaigns.
He meanwhile called for support of international partners to help Afghanistan to be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO.
“The international partners and the sympathetic countries of Afghanistan should help us in this area so that Afghanistan can be represented in the International Health Assembly and the Eastern Mediterranean Regional Organization or EMRO, which is the right of the Ministry of Health, with this, we will share our health priorities and needs with the international community and find solutions to them,” Ebad added.
The G5 meeting, in Tehran, has brought together Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Tajikistan to boost cooperation in the health sector.
IEA foreign minister meets with Pakistan Army Chief of Staff
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that Amir Khan Muttaqi met with General Asim Munir, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, and discussed regional security, ease of movement of people, and issues related to Afghan immigrants.
Pakistan media reported Munir stressed in the meeting with Muttaqi the need for enhanced cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan to “effectively” tackle the common challenges of terrorism and extremism.
According to a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Muttaqi, who is currently in Pakistan on a four-day visit, called on the army chief at his office in Rawalpindi.
The two discussed issues of mutual interest including aspects related to regional security, border management, and formalization of bilateral security mechanisms for improvement in the current security environment.
Pakistan’s army chief also reiterated the need for full support and commitment from the IEA in matters of mutual interest, Geo News reported.
During the meeting, both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining regular contact to strengthen bilateral ties and address issues of common concern.
Later, the army chief reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Muttaqi and his delegation met with a number of leaders of Pakistan’s political parties on Saturday evening in Islamabad, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and other leaders, and discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation.
Muttaqi also met with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, discussing about Afghanistan-Pakistan political-economic, commercial, transit relations and the creation of necessary facilities in these areas. Also, in the meeting, discussions were held regarding the easy movement of Afghan refugees and businessmen in Pakistan, IEA foreign ministry said.
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