Ulema – religious scholars – from both Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to hold bilateral summits in order to explore options for peace and encourage the Taliban to join the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
A spokesman of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC) – a body mandated for peace talks with the Taliban – said that clerics from both sides had agreed to hold periodic meetings in both the countries to discuss peace in according with Islamic teachings.
Syed Ehsan Tahiri, the HPC spokesman, while talking to a foreign news agency, said that Pakistan had agreed to hold meetings in Islamabad along with agreeing to join similar meetings in Kabul. The meetings will reportedly be joined by hundreds of scholars.
These developments come days after an Islamic summit of religious scholars in Indonesia appreciated Afghan President Ghani’s dialogue and peace offering to the Taliban. The summit also condemned suicide attacks and deemed them contrary to the principles of Islam.
President Ghani had welcomed the outcome of the Indonesian moot that was opposed by the Taliban when it was initially planned in March. The High Peace Council also hailed the declaration and described it as a major success.
The Afghan government seems to be encouraged by the Indonesian summit declaration and has apparently stepped up efforts consult Pakistan on a possible role of religious leaders who might have ‘some influence on the Afghan Taliban’.
However, the Taliban have reportedly said that such summits will not have any impact on their insurgency. “These gatherings cannot harm us as these processes have lost credibility,” an Afghan Taliban leader said when asked about the proposed Pak-Afghan ulema meeting.