Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree ordering the gradual release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners in two phases, the presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said in a tweet on Wednesday.
An initial 1,500 will be gradually released, in a goodwill gesture to kickstart peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, Sediqqi wrote.
Another 3,500 are to be freed after negotiations begin, on the condition that there is a tangible reduction in violence, according to the four-article pardon decree.
The staggered release will start on Saturday at Parwan prison.
Every day, 100 Taliban prisoners will be released. The choice of prisoner to release will take into consideration age, health status, and the remaining time of sentenced imprisonment.
The freed inmates are required to make a written commitment not to return to the war.
When direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban have begun, every two weeks 500 Taliban prisoners will be released until a total of 3,500 prisoners are completed.
However, the Taliban is demanding the release of 5,000 prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan captives as a prerequisite for talks.
Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told dpa on Tuesday that formal intra-Afghan negotiations, scheduled for March 10, would not take place as Taliban prisoners had not yet been released.
Shaheen said that only the release of specific prisoners that are included on a list given to US officials will be acceptable.
Shaheen said the prisoners should be handed over to them in a ‘desert’ or ‘in prison’ after cross-checking and verification by their delegation.
Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission said that it feels concerned about the swap.
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