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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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June 3, 2014 - 6:54 am

Some presidential transitions entail staffers removing certain keyboard keys on the way out the door. As Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who wasn’t so excited about his term limits, heads for the exits, he appears to be wanting to leave a more confounding mess for his countrymen. Reports Afghanistan’s Tolo News:

The Afghan government has appeared less than pleased with the way the deal was made as well as its end result. President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly demanded the peace process be Afghan-led and eschewed the involvement of Qatar, which tried to kick start diplomatic talks with Taliban leaders last year by establishing an office for them outside of Doha.

Now, without much explanation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has taken a hardline against the one year probationary period for the five militant leaders and expressed the desire to see them freed entirely. Why the Afghan government, which continues to fight the Taliban around the country on a daily basis, is so eager to see some of its top leaders freed unconditionally remains unclear.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to inform the Qatari government and the U.S. about its concerns, we want the detainees to have complete freedom,” MoFA spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mustaghna said on Monday.

The Ministry has reportedly sent an official letter to the Qatari government and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul expressing the Afghan government’s stance on the five men. The letter also demands clarification from President Obama regarding the role of Qatar in the deal-making process.

Meanwhile, just as the Afghan government has demanded the five former detainees be completely let loose, Afghan political analysts have expressed grave apprehensions about the men’s release and the trouble it could cause security in Afghanistan.

“These freed Taliban commanders could be the cause of hundreds of people being killed in any part of Afghanistan and they could assassinate prominent people, because they are the most dangerous figures of the Taliban,” Kunduz MP Fatima Aziz told TOLOnews.

Residents of the northern Balkh province, where one of the commanders, Maulavi Noorullah Noori, served as the Taliban’s Governor before 2001, have expressed major concerns about the releases.

“When he came to Mazar-e-Sharif as governor, he started a massacre, he ordered everyone to be killed in the open,” Balkh resident Ibrahim recalled. “We do not agree with the release.”

President Obama thanked the Afghan government for its cooperation in his remarks about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release over the weekend, but Karzai is reportedly upset about a deal being cut without his knowledge.

When pressed at yesterday’s briefing about whether the U.S. still considers the Taliban a terrorist group, Jay Carney said “we regard the Taliban as an enemy combatant in a conflict that has been going on — in which the United States has been involved — for more than a decade.”

“And in this case, although as you know, we dealt with the Qataris in order to secure his release, it was absolutely the right thing to do, because he was a uniformed member of the U.S. military who was in captivity as a prisoner, not as a hostage.  And so, we sought his recovery and succeeded in recovering him,” Carney said.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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