President Ashraf Ghani Hopes Release of Haqqani Leaders Brings Peace
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani confirmed that the government will conditionally release Anas Haqqani from Bagram prison in exchange for the release of two lecturers of the American University of Afghanistan. Haji Mali and Abdul Rashid are the two other senior Taliban leaders the government would release with Anas Haqqani.
American Kevin King and Australian Timothy had been kidnapped by the Taliban and kept in custody since 2016
The Haqqani network has been behind many of the co-ordinated attacks on Afghan and Nato forces in recent years and has been blamed for some of the deadliest blasts in the country
Will this move result in intra Afghan talks that are slated in Beijing for 21 November now remains to be seen?
Public opinion on the release of the leaders of the Haqqani network who have been in custody for the American professors has been very skeptical of the government move.
Thus it is not surprising that over 80 percent of the people polled have been against the release.
Importantly the Pakistan ISI Chief was also in Kabul ostensibly in connection with the recent standoff between the two countries on the border but there could be a link with the release of the prisoners of the Haqqani network given the close contacts that the ISI maintains with the group and also the hand that Islamabad has in the talks with the Taliban.
In a grim reminder that there are likely to be concerns over the release of the three top leaders of the Haqqani network Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid an explosion in Kabul has resulted in 12 deaths and many wounded on 13 November.
The explosion takes place a day after President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani announced the release of 3 senior Haqqani Network leaders.
Thus it is not surprising that Afghan House of Representatives strongly criticized the release of three members of the Haqqani network by the government.
There was strong American pressure for the release of the members of the deadly terrorist group in a swap for prisoners – the US professors who had been held by the Taliban for long.
The government contends that the released leaders will not come back to the mainstream of fighting and this will pave the way for peace in the country has now been questioned by many.