Setback to peace prospect: Proposed Kabul Ulema moot gets cold shoulder

The lukewarm response from clerics is being attributed to Taliban rejection.

Tahir Khan January 27, 2013
The lukewarm response from clerics is being attributed to Taliban rejection.


A conference of Pakistani and Afghan religious scholars, scheduled to be held in Kabul by the end of January, faces a likely delay that will be a serious setback for the so-called notion of “religious backing” for the peace efforts by the US-backed Karzai regime, diplomats and officials revealed on Thursday.

A delegation of Afghan clerics was scheduled to visit Pakistan ahead of the conference to invite religious leaders and discuss the agenda for peace; however the visit has still not taken place, officials of the two countries told The Express Tribune.

The idea of the so-called ‘ulema’ conference, aimed at winning religious backing for the peace process in war-torn Afghanistan, was first floated when Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani visited Islamabad in November. Pakistan threw its support behind the proposal.

Few weeks after the visit of the Afghan peace envoy, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and her Afghan counterpart, Zalmai Rasoul, agreed during their official talks in Islamabad to hold the conference by the end of January.

Both sides also agreed to hold a joint conference of Afghan and Pakistani ulema to take place in Kabul by the end of January 2013, release of more prisoners, facilitating contacts and urging the Taliban to renounce ties with al Qaeda, according to the joint statement issued at the end of the Afghan foreign minister’s visit to Islamabad.

It was revealed that the proposal of the ‘ulema’ conference could not receive a positive response from Pakistani religious leaders, whose roles are considered crucial for the Afghan peace process.

Maulana Samiul Haq, leader of JUI-S, was also not very supportive of the meeting.

“There are many ulema in Afghanistan… If you invite scholars from the whole world but do not accommodate the Afghan ulema’s opinion, then the conference will not produce any result,” Haq had told this correspondent earlier this month. He was however of the opinion that religious scholars can play an important role in resolving the Afghan imbroglio.

Many Afghan Taliban and their teachers have studied at Haq’s ‘Madrassa Haqqania’ in Akora Khattak and his role is also considered significant to the Afghan peace process.

The Afghan Taliban had angrily rejected the conference of religious scholars as a “clear American intrigue”.

Pakistani officials believe that the Taliban reaction was one of the main reasons for a lukewarm response from Pakistani religious leaders.

Afghan sources revealed that the Afghan side had already constituted a five-member committee for the conference. However, both sides have had no headway on the matter in accordance with the schedule they had agreed earlier.

The postponement will prove to be a serious blow to the efforts of Kabul to win “religious backing” for the fragile peace efforts.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.


Asad Khan | 8 years ago | Reply

ET is a propaganda as well

s | 8 years ago | Reply

@sajjad ali khan, lol at the level of confidence with which you know what Paksitanis think. No we do not think we have the power to determine some ones faith, only ALLAH does. We want peace in AF more than any other foreign country. stability in AF is important to us.

Either we can fight with each other or follow Islam and be brothers and prosper together. Our enemies will always want to divide us. It only serves them not Muslims

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