Greta Gamberini, International Affairs Officer
To mark the beginning of Eid al-Adha on the 31st of July, a three-day cease fire was declared between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The decision will allow for peaceful celebrations of the Muslim holiday and marks an important step for progress toward peace in the country.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) welcomed the move on Twitter, adding that it should be used as the starting point for intra-Afghan negotiations, as agreed in February in a US-Taliban agreement. The Afghan government has positively backed the suggestion, and President Ghani, in addressing the nation on Friday, ordered the release of 500 Taliban prisoners while wishing for the truce to continue past the three days of celebrations.
The release will happen on the fourth day of Eid, August 3, and will see the release of captives of the security and defense forces as well as civilians as an exchange. It is worthwhile to point out that the 500 prisoners are not part of the list given to the Afghan government by the Taliban, as the names on the list are accused of serious crimes and cannot be released as lightly. For the 400 names contained in the list, President Ghani committed to call for a grand assembly of Afghan elders to decide on their fate. The President also committed to respecting the decision coming out of such consultation.
As of Thursday, the Taliban also have released roughly 1,000 prisoners.