With little fanfare, one of the notorious prisons in Afghanistan, Bagram, was transfered to Afghan authority. This is another signal that the war in Afghanistan is slowly drawing to an end.
A small ceremony resulted in the transfer of about 3,000 Taliban fighters and terrorists to the Kabul government and its security forces. The transfer is part of the move to hand control of Afghanistan to Afghan authorities ahead of the 2014 NATO troop withdrawal.
Presidenthailed the move, but U.S. authorities insist on maintaining control over some detainees. The prison has been called the Gitmo of Afghanistan, with multiple prisoner abuse allegations, including torture.
According to foreign correspondents, the ceremony was poorly attended by U.S. and NATO officers.
Colonel Robert Taradash, the highest ranking US official, addressing Afghan authorites, said that the U.S. has transfered more than 3,000 prisoners to Afghan authorities and that it assured that those threatening Afghan and coalition forces would not return to the battlefield.
Afghan acting Defence Minister Enayatullah Nazari said that Afghan Security Forces were well-trained and happy to be able to exercise their capability to take responsibility and guard prisoners independently.
"We are taking the responsibility from foreign forces," he said.
However, the handover is not without controversy. The fact that the U.S. is maintaining responsibility for some of the prisoners, stating it has the right to hold prisoners caught on the battlefield, has angered Karzai, who says that this is an issue of Afghan sovereignity.
The Director for Conflict and Peace Studies, Hekmat Karzai, a cousin to Karzai, said that the U.S. argument is that it is difficult to release these people while there are still people on the battlefield.
Be that as it may, it boils down to an issue of trust. With recent events, including the so called "green on blue" killings, the U.S. does have reason to continue to hold some of the most dangerous prisoners.
Four Taliban leaders have indicated that although they will not deal directly with Hamid Karzai's government, said they would denounce their association with al-Qaida as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.
The Taliban led by Mullah Mohammad Omar are open to a general ceasefire and/or political agreement which could lead to a US military presence in Afghanistan after 2014, but will not negotiate with President Karzai or his administration, which is seen as corrupt and weak, according to a new Briefing Paper published by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Source: RUSI News
Bagram prison, which is located 25 miles north of Kabul, will now be known as Parwan Detention Centre.