After the recent release of over 80 hard core Taliban prisoners, after the Loya Jirga assembled in Kabul, gave a go ahead to release of the last of 400 Taliban prisoners, a temporary halt on release of remaining 320 prisoners is in effect, as few more countries (France and Australia) shared the apprehensions of Afghan Government and public, that the prisoners in question had conducted serious violent attacks on Afghans and foreigners.
The release was part of a peace agreement signed between the Taliban and the United States on February 29, 2020, to clear the last hurdle for the beginning of Intra Afghan talks, to give peace a chance in Afghanistan. A quick announcement of US withdrawal of another 4000 troops, post Loya Jirga’s decision indicated US fulfilment of its obligations as per the deal.
US may commend its Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of the deal for allowing the US to withdraw its forces and end its longest-ever war, but the fact is that Taliban controls more territory in Afghanistan now, than at the time when US entered the war, and the terror groups like al Qaeda, Islamic State (IS), Haqqani Network co-exist with Taliban, with an opportunity to bounce back, if not adequately controlled. The peace deal does not guarantee success of Intra-Afghan dialogue; hence all stake holders have to wait and see its progress with hope, as well as apprehension.
Has US Created a Strategic Space for Others?
India, having made significant investments in Afghanistan, will always hope for an Afghan elected, Afghan led, Afghan owned peace and reconciliation process and a popular democratic government in Afghanistan, however Taliban continues to be a force to reckon with.