Clerics endorse Ghani’s talks offer to Taliban
Kabul. A tripartite conference of religious clerics from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia, inaugurated by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo have announced opposition to terrorism and violent extremism on Afghan soil and supported any peace effort for bringing peace and prosperity in the war-ravaged Afghanistan. Friday’s conference was held months after more than 1,800 Pakistani clerics issued an Islamic decree, or fatwa, condemning suicide attacks and terrorism in all forms in Pakistan. Pakistan’s conference was criticized by the Afghan government at the time, though, for condemning terrorism inside Pakistan only, and not also extending the religious decree to Afghanistan. Bogor’s religious conference was seen as an effort to persuade Pakistani religious scholars, who have deep influence over terrorist groups in the country, to reject terrorism not only in Pakistan but also in neighboring Afghanistan as well. That is where Taliban militants and the Islamic State terror group have increased their violence in recent months, killing and wounding hundreds of Afghan civilians and security personnel. The Taliban and the Haqqani Network are believed to be hiding in Pakistan and using Pakistani soil to train and launch terror attacks in neighboring Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan and handed over hard evidences of being selective in its campaign against terrorist groups operating in the country and targeting only groups that threaten Pakistan’s security. Pakistan has been pursing its policy of keeping distinction between good and bad Taliban. Without directly appealing to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network or IS, religious scholars from all three countries issued a 12-point statement on Friday at the end of the one-day conference in Bogor and called on all warring sides to join direct peace talks with the Afghan government. The Taliban have yet to react officially to the conference, but the group has rejected calls for peace coming from previous similar gatherings. Following Pakistan’s meeting of religious scholars in January, Afghan scholars gathered that same month and issued a separate decree against suicide attacks and violence in Afghanistan. But terrorist groups have carried out dozens of terrorist attacks in both countries since the religious decrees. According to the High Peace Council, 20 Afghan clerics have taken part in the Jakarta meeting, hoping to find out a way out of the ongoing crisis. President Ashraf Ghani special representative on political affairs and Chief Executive of High Peace Council Dr. Akram Khpalwak also made official visits to Jakarta where he held productive meetings with Indonesian leadership in order to bolster bilateral relations and make the conference result-oriented.
Regional Islamic scholars who gathered in Jakarta on Friday issued a joint declaration on the war and peace in Afghanistan, in which they promulgated their opposition against terrorism and violent extremism and declared their support for any peace e offer, efforts and declarations that helps ending war and bringing peace in Afghanistan. Clerics of the three Muslim countries declared that Islam is the religion of peace and prohibits war and violence. Moreover, the participants of the conference unanimously supported President Ashraf Ghani peace offer to Taliban and termed it valuable opportunity for ending the conflict. The conference was also applause for regional countries, Muslim nations and the international community’s support to the Afghan peace quest, urging the warring parties to renounce violence and join peace talks, offer by the Afghan President during the Kabul Process Conference, held in Kabul in order to establish lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and around the region. Violence against civilians and suicide attacks go against the basic principles of Islam, the clerics declared, and no religion, nationality, civilization or ethnic group should be associated to justify violence and terrorism. The declaration called upon the Muslim world to unite against the joint enemy—terrorism. Thanking the Indonesian leadership for hosting the tripartite conference of religious scholars, Akram Khpalwak termed the conference of religious scholars a big step towards peace in Afghanistan. Khpalwak in a message he displayed on his official Twitter account expressed his deepest satisfaction over the declaration of the conference that supported the Afghan-led peace process, denouncing violence and suicide attacks, killing of civilian people were also declared against the basic principles of the religion Islam.
Tri-lateral Ulema Summit in Indonesia is a big step towards peace in #Afghanistan. The declaration of conference strongly supports the Afghan Peace Process, denounce violence & declared suicide attacks, civilians kilings & exremism against th holy principles of Islam. pic.twitter.com/hfurv1cVXF
— M. Akram Khpalwak (@KhpalwakAkram) May 13, 2018
Moreover, Khpalwak wrote on his Twitter,
Bogor declaratoion have challenged the legitimacy of ongoing violence & it will help in long-lasting peace in #Afghanistan. Ulemas role in peace is important & they have to be involved in peace process. I appreciate this intiative & consider it a big achievement.
— M. Akram Khpalwak (@KhpalwakAkram) May 13, 2018
Additionally, President Ashraf Ghani has alos warmly welcomed the conference of religious clerics in Indonesia. Displaying message on Twitter account, President Ghani said the joint meeting of the religious scholars in Indonesia regarding peace and stability in Afghanistan overwhelmingly endorsed and shed light on the values of peace under religious beliefs. “I welcome this Islamic position, faith in peace, and call for clarity that scholars from the rest of the Muslim world to play a positive role in eliminating terrorism, violence and extremism in Afghanistan and the region,” President Ghani wrote on his Twitter.
I welcome this Islamic position, faith in peace, and call for clarity that scholars from the rest of the Muslim world to play a positive role in eliminating terrorism, violence and extremism in #Afghanistan and the region.
— Ashraf Ghani (@ashrafghani) May 12, 2018
Similarly, European Union Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia also announced his support to the conference of religious scholars in Indonesia. “All paths to dialogue and peace are to be welcomed,” he displayed a message on Twitter.
The conference of Ulemas from Afghanistan and Pakistan has just taken place in Jakarta under the auspices of the President of Indonesia. All paths to dialogue and peace are to be welcomed. #Afghanistan #EU @EUinAfghanistan #dialogue pic.twitter.com/dEnmsFHAJJ
— Roland Kobia (@RolandKobia) May 11, 2018
The declaration of the tripartite conference is highly commendable and the efforts made jointly by the Indonesian government and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan must be appreciated. However, the US-led International Community should be tougher on Pakistan and impose a number of economic and diplomatic sanctions on that country to force it to turn around its project of international terrorism, because durable peace and stability in Afghanistan and region would be a dream, as long as terror havens across Pakistan were not touched and Pakistan’s notorious Afghan Course remains in place. Moreover, such type of conferences must be extended to the whole of the Muslim World, USA, European and regional countries to further push terrorist outfits and terror sponsor states towards worst kind of regional and international isolation. In addition to that, the ongoing public uprising in Afghanistan against violence and state sponsored terrorism must be nurtured and promoted to unite and organize the Afghan masses against terrorism in the country, that have been taking precious lives of our people on daily basis. Besides all it, Afghanistan is in dire need to frame counter-narratives and exercise offensive polices, if peace offers and conferences did not yield required results, as defensive strategies never brought peace to Afghanistan and did not influence Pakistan to stop its terrorist involvement in our beloved and historic country. The Afghan government must make efforts to influence the US President Donald Trump administration to translate Trump’s words into actions, when it comes to the continued lies and deceits of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. However, it comes at a time, when Pakistan’s military has established once again Taliban reign across FATA that has been serving as a launching pad for terrorist and destructive activities in Afghanistan.
Following is the joint declaration of the conference, hosted by the Indonesia.