By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - The Afghan government on Thursday urged the Taliban to reconsider demanding the release of nearly 600 insurgents convicted of “serious crimes” amid the stalled peace process.
In a series of tweets, Javed Faisal, spokesman for the National Security Council, said the government has so far released over 4,000 Taliban while the Taliban has released “barely half of the 1,000” hostages they agreed to release under a peace deal with the US.
"There are 592 convicted Taliban on the Doha Taliban's list of 5K that have serious crimes, such as drug trafficking, abducting citizens, sexual assault, stoning of women, assassinations, and other haq-ul-abd (crimes against individuals) cases," he said.
He added that the Taliban have been given the choice to submit another 592 names for consideration for release, but if they do not, "we might take matters in our own hands. The ball is on the Talib court."
The Taliban on Thursday released at least 15 more captives as the Afghan government intensified international diplomatic efforts to kick-start the stalled peace process.
The rejuvenated yet fragile Afghan peace deal hinges on the sluggish prison swap, testing the patience of the erratic warring parties.
The prisoner releases had come to a halt less than halfway through May amid bitter exchanges of allegations and spiking of violence across the country.
According to official sources, there are 12,000-15,000 inmates in Afghan government prisons, including militants from Pakistan, Central Asia, and Gulf countries. No figures are available on captives held by the insurgents.