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Loya Jirga on fate of Taliban prisoners to convene Friday in Kabul

03 Aug 2020 Ariana News

The Afghan government will convene a Consultative Loya Jirga on Friday in Kabul to decide the fate of the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners who are on the group’s list. For this Jirga, the Presidential Palace is yet to release details but officials have said the expected participants would be the same as those who participated in the last Peace Jirga along with members of the High Council for National Reconciliation. “Loya Jirga will be held on August 7th. It is in continuation of the Consultative Jirga for Peace. Members are the same from the previous Jirga which will be divided into different categories such as civil society, media, and people’s council … the commission that is tasked for convening the Jirga will provide further details by tomorrow,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Presidential Palace. A Loya Jirga is a mass national gathering that brings together representatives from the various ethnic, religious, and tribal communities in Afghanistan. The Jirga, or “grand council” is a centuries-old tradition that is convened at times of a national crisis or to settle a national issue. Historically, it has been used to approve a new constitution, declare war, choose a new king, or to make sweeping social or political reforms. A question that’s been raised however is why did the government not convene a Loya Jirga on the release of the other 4,600 Taliban prisoners – who have already been freed. Some lawyers believe however that this latest move, to hold a Loya Jirga, is purely symbolic and holds no legal authority. Nasrullah Stanikzai, a law expert, said: “No one is authorized to forgive the Taliban prisoner. The Loya Jirga doesn’t have legal status. Its decisions don’t have a legal base. How can they resolve a legal issue? Political pressure has made the government release 4,500 Taliban prisoners. This Jirga, which is scheduled on Friday, is a symbolic and political move.” In addition to this, the government has called for the Jirga – which will bring together scores of people – amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In April last year, a peace Jirga brought together more than 3,200 delegates. The Ministry of Public Health does not, however, see this as an issue and feels participants should simply adhere to precautionary measures and health guidelines. “Undoubtedly, we will consider all precautionary measures, and based on the health directives, it will not be a problem to hold a Loya Jirga,” said Mohammad Jawad Osmani, the Acting Health Minister. Meanwhile, the Second Vice President, Sarwar Danesh, has told the US Deputy Ambassador to Kabul that holding the Jirga on the fate of the 400 controversial Taliban prisoners is a positive move toward intra-Afghan talks. So far, the release of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners, as per the Doha agreement between the US and the Taliban, has been a stumbling block in the way of talks. However, over 4,500 prisoners have already been released but 400 are still behind bars. Some Afghan government officials and Western allies have in the past few weeks raised concerns over at least 200 of these prisoners. Many of them are said to have been the masterminds behind serious attacks over the past few years.

Original Link: https://ariananews.af/loya-jirga-on-fate-of-taliban-prisoners-to-convene-friday-in-kabul/

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