By Shadi Khan Saif
Afghan analysts expressed optimism Sunday over the handing over to Kabul of four Afghan detainees held for over a decade at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, pointing out that the move might facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
The Pentagon announced on Saturday that Shawali Khan, Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani and Mohammed Zahir were transferred to the Afghan government’s control in compliance with President Barrack Obama’s directives.
“In accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the US intent to transfer these individuals and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard,” a Pentagon statement said.
Among those transferred to Kabul, Ali Gul, 51, was arrested in 2002 and accused of being a Taliban intelligence officer. Abdul Ghani, 42, was captured in 2002 as a suspected member of a Taliban-linked faction. Mohammad Zahir, 61, was arrested in 2003 on the charge of helping Taliban with weapons caches.
Principally, the Afghan and the U.S. government had agreed upon the transfer of Gitmo prisoners to Afghanistan but owing to the former Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s strained ties with the U.S. and his reluctance to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement BSA with the US, there was no or little progress.
Earlier this year, the U.S. swapped five Taliban captives for a U.S. prisoner-of-war Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a deal that delivered the Afghans to the custody of Qatar.
Dr. Farooque Bashar, a Kabul based geopolitical analyst, told AA that since this time the inmates are directly handed over to Kabul, this move could well prove to be a first step towards the re-opening of Taliban office in Qatar.
“It would help build confidence among the Afghan Taliban that the Kabul government is committed to peace process and eventually facilitate them for reopening an office in Qatar for the formal dialogue to begin,” Bashar believed.
He, however, maintained that without the sincere cooperation of Pakistan, peace cannot come to Afghanistan.
An official from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, who wished not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the press, said the individuals would be reunited with their families after certain formalities were met.
He also expressed hope that the release of these high profile Taliban leaders would compel the militants to come to the negotiation table.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said in a statement it had "full confidence in the Afghan government's ability to mitigate any threats these individuals may pose and to ensure that they are given humane treatment.”
Some eight Afghans are believed to be among the 132 detainees remaining at the U.S. prison in Cuba.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.