The Taliban militant group confirmed that the exchange of Haqqani network prisoners with the two kidnapped professors from the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) did not take place.
In a phone call with Ariana News, the group’s spokesman Zabihulla Mjujaheed said, Anas Haqqani, Hafiz Rashid and Mali Khan were expected to be transferred to Qatar and Taliban would hand over the two AUAF professors to Americans inside Afghanistan but for unknown reasons the swap did not happen.
According to the Taliban official, the three top insurgent commanders are still in Bagram Prison.
“[The] Taliban demanded release of 82 prisoners in exchange for [the] two professors but the Afghan government released only three of them,” Abdul Shokur Motmaein, a former Taliban official, said.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s First Lady Rula Ghani, on Thursday, admitted that the prisoners swap for two AUAF professors “did not work.”
Speaking at US Institute of Peace in Washington DC, Rula Ghani said,“I am not quite sure why, but probably some party did not do what they promised they are going to do, so, unfortunately, the two professors may not be released.”
President Ashraf Ghani, in a televised press conference on Tuesday, confirmed that Anas Haqqani, Haji Mali Khan and Hafiz Rashid, three top Haqqani Network commanders, have been “conditionally released” in exchange for the release of two foreign university professors who were kidnapped by the Haqqani Network in 2016.
Ghani added that the negotiation was made in close cooperation with the U.S. in order to pave the way for face-to-face negotiations with the Taliban.