U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad told the BBC that he was “not happy” about the February agreement’s condition to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
He added that “you have to make hard decisions” when referring to how the Doha agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban finally led to the start of the peace negotiations in Qatar.
When asked about released Taliban prisoners returning to the battlefield, the envoy said they “do not have any evidence.”
However, the Ministry of Interior and a report by Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has shown that released Taliban have gone back to fighting.
The release of the 5,000 Taliban prisoners was a condition set without the involvement of the Afghan government.
President Ashraf Ghani had warned that this was a substantial “cost” for the peace process and said their release was a “danger” to the world.
“I appreciate the challenges the government faced,” Khalilzad told the BBC, denying their release was a mistake.
“I applaud them [the Afghan government] for making the difficult decisions that they did. That decision made today possible.”