KOMPAS.com - The Afghan government said it plans to begin talks with 14 countries to discuss what to do with hundreds of their citizens who have been captured while fighting alongside the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).
Ahmad Zia Seraj, the head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said last week that his government wanted to "find an acceptable solution to the problem."
The foreign nationals in Afghan custody are 408 ISKP members, including 173 women and children.
According to the Afghan government, 299 of them are from Pakistan, 37 from Uzbekistan, 16 from China, 13 from Tajikistan, 12 from Kyrgyzstan, five from Russia, five from Jordan, five from Indonesia, four from India, four from Iran, three from Turkey, two from Bangladesh and two from Maldives.
Abdul Wahid Taqat, a former senior intelligence official in the Afghan government, predicted a ‘difficult’ legal and political process for the repatriation of the ISKP prisoners, saying Kabul will likely need to use international bodies to convince those countries take back their citizens.
“Returning these fighters would not be easy because Afghanistan has no treaties to extradite or exchange terrorists with most of these countries,” Taqat told VOA, adding that “a reasonable option for Afghanistan is to involve the United Nations Human Commission on Human Rights to find a solution.”
Most of the countries are hesitant to take back their citizens who have joined terror groups because of legal and security risks these “dangerous individuals” pose, said Colin Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center.
Clarke, however, said that some countries will likely be more responsive to the Afghan government request.
“More authoritarian countries do not need the proof; countries that are more transparent will need it to prosecute [these individuals],” he said.
He added that China has interest in taking back its citizens back because it has “inflated the threat of terrorism to justify their treatment of Uyghurs.”
Reuters reported in 2015 that the Afghan government arrested and handed over a number of Uyghur militants to China as a way to persuade China to help with convincing Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Taqat said the Afghan government’s announcement shows that foreign fighters still have bases in the country and that their presence would remain a "formidable threat" after foreign troops leave.