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Afghan government and Taliban in open communication

by Margaret Stewart - Managing Editor
Tue, Nov 19th 2019 09:00 pm
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (above) speaks to press in September,
2019. Ghani made orders for his government to release three Taliban captives in
exchange for abducted American and Australian professors taken in September this year.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (above) speaks to press in September, 2019. Ghani made orders for his government to release three Taliban captives in exchange for abducted American and Australian professors taken in September this year.

In September of 2019 the Afghan government used its appearance at the U.N. General Assembly to warn insurgents, “join us in peace, or we will continue to fight,” according to AP. 

This all happened before its political elections which had minimal participation as hundreds of polling centers were closed because they weren’t secured against the Taliban, according to AP. 

“Out of an estimated total population of 35 million people (an uncertain figure due to the lack of reliable census data), approximately 9.6 million people (one-third being women) were registered to vote in Afghanistan during the most recent elections,” The Diplomat reported. “Out of the 1,929,333 votes transferred to the Independent Election Commission’s central database, 1,843,107 votes were determined to be valid.” 

After being postponed once before, the result of the Afghan presidential election were due on Thursday, Nov. 14; however, they have been delayed yet again, according to Reuters. 

“The militants control or hold sway over roughly half the country and warned voters not to go to the polls,” AP reporter Jennifer Peltz wrote. 

According to The Diplomat, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported, “‘eighty-five people were killed and another 373 injured during attacks related to the recent presidential election in Afghanistan. That number includes 277 casualties, 28 of them fatalities, that occurred on polling day on 28 September.’ Children made up more than one-third of the victims.” 

The bloodbath was a result of the Taliban attempting to prevent people from going to the polls so they would be unable to participate in the election. Tensions regarding elections are high in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban was removed from political power in 2001. 

Also increasing the tension between the Taliban and the Afghan government is the fact the U.S. has been steadily pulling out its troops regardless of the absence of a peace deal with the Taliban, according to The New York Times. 

“The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, said Monday that the size of the force in the country had dropped by 2,000 over the last year, down to somewhere between 13,000 and 12,000,” The Times reported. 

In addition to the removal of a number of American forces from the region, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Tuesday, Nov. 12 that two American professors will be released by the Taliban in exchange for the freedom of three Taliban leaders, according to NBC. 

“Ghani said the three Taliban captives were kept in a Bagram prison, which is under the control of the Afghan government and is a facility where some of the most high-profile prisoners are kept, after they were captured outside Afghanistan,” NBC reported. 

Personally, I was surprised at the news as, this administration in particular, seems to be really strict against its wartime counterparts so watching the administration sit by as three Taliban leaders were released was rather shocking. 

This isn’t the first time this y ear a deal of this nature has been made though. 

In October of this year there were eleven Taliban commanders that were released in accordance with a deal, according to The New York Times. 

“A senior Afghan official said the 11 Taliban prisoners had been released in return for three Indian engineers after months of negotiations with local Taliban commanders in northern Baghlan province, where the engineers were kidnapped last year,” The New York Times reported. “The Indian Embassy in Afghanistan declined to comment.” 

With the number of deals occurring this fall and the cancelation of President Donald Trump’s meeting with both the Taliban and Afghan leaders makes the situation fairly difficult to read and the future relationship between the three parties continues to be murky and tumultuous. 

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Taken by Vinny Croce:
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