Religious Ulemas Meet in Saudi Arabia to Address Afghan Peace Efforts

Religious Ulemas Meet in Saudi Arabia to Address Afghan Peace Efforts

Wednesday, 11 July, 2018 - 06:15
The OIC is hosting in Jeddah and Makkah a two-day conference on peace in Afghanistan. (SPA)
Jeddah - Asmaa al-Ghaberi and Aisha Jaafari
The "International Conference of Muslim Scholars on Peace and Stability in the Republic of Afghanistan" kicked off in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Tuesday in an attempt to present the differing views on ways to achieve peace in Afghanistan.

The two-day conference is hosted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and will continue on Wednesday in the holy city of Makkah.

OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen urged at the beginning of the meeting all concerned sides to respond to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s call to reach reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“The conference aims to enforce peace and stability in Afghanistan and condemn terrorist and extremism in all of their forms,” he added.

He was optimistic that the meeting will lead to agreements that would bolster national reconciliation and end all forms of violence that contradict the teachings of Islam.

Speakers at the conference included Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh.

He underlined King Salman’s keen interest and commitment to see a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan.

To that end, he stressed, Muslim scholars have the responsibility to correct misconceptions, help mend fences and sensitize the entire Afghan community to the importance of obeying and assisting their rulers and governors and eschewing strife.

Afghanistan’s Ulema Council Chief Sheikhul Hadith Mawlawi Qiamuddin Kashaf expressed his gratitude to King Salman for his longstanding support to the Afghan people.

He hoped that the conference will help restore peace, security and stability in his country, saying the people are pinning their hopes on the meeting.

Othaimeen later told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Our goal is to bring together all members of Afghan society to the dialogue table, not the battlefield.”

“The fact that the conference is being held close to the holy Kaaba places a moral and Islamic responsibility on the ulemas to reach a unified stance on national reconciliation” and condemning terrorism, he added.

There can be no political or religious cover for a Muslim killing a fellow Muslim, he stressed.

Afghanistan has suffered a lot from wars and terrorism, he added, saying that Saudi Arabia is interested in helping it on the political and humanitarian levels.

A sign of this support was King Salman’s welcoming of a truce called for by the Afghan government on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr last month, said Othaimeen.

“This perhaps could be the first step towards national reconciliation,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s political aide, Mohammad Akram Khpolwak, meanwhile said that the Taliban office in Qatar has so far not played any role in pushing the peace process forward.

He revealed that Ghani invited Taliban officials to attend the OIC conference, but none of them attended.

Should the office continue to play an inactive role, then Kabul may resort to the United States and Qatari governments to urge them to shut the office, he added.

He also hoped that Pakistan would engage in peace efforts, saying that Islamabad has acknowledged that Taliban members are present on its soil.

On Iran’s role in Afghanistan, Khpolwak stated: “We constantly call for an end to foreign meddling in our affairs and we are demanding neighboring countries not to interfere in our internal issues.”

“Of course Iran provides significant backing to Taliban in Afghanistan and we are here to demand an end to this meddling,” he stressed.

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