Saudis to Host Conference Seeking Afghan Peace

Kabul, MINA – Saudi Arabia is hosting an international Muslim scholars conference on peace and stability in Afghanistan next week, said Afghan officials.

Delegations from 57 Islamic countries are expected to participate in the two-day conference Tuesday and Wednesday in Jeddah and Islam’s holy city of Mecca, officials of the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC), a government body tasked with talking to the Afghan Taliban, VOA reported.

Atturahman Saleem, HPC deputy chairman, said 110 Muslim scholars participating in the conference “are expected to discuss the Afghan war and peace process,” he added.

“At the end, a statement under the name of ‘Makka Al-Mukarramah’ will be issued,” Saleem added.

HPC expressed hope that the Afghan Taliban would send their representatives to participate in the conference.

The insurgents have yet to comment on the upcoming conference, but the group dismissed religious decrees issued by similar conferences held in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia in the past, which condemned acts of terrorism, such as suicide attacks and bombings, as non-Islamic acts and against the teachings of Islam.

After Islamic scholars conferences in Indonesia and Kabul earlier this year, attendees at the Saudi conference hope to persuade the Islamic world to unanimously reject violence in Afghanistan and encourage the Afghan Taliban to accept Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer for unconditional peace talks.


Unconditional peace offer

Ghani made the offer to the Afghan Taliban in February, pledging to recognize the insurgent group as a legitimate political party if it agreed to give up violence.

The Taliban rejected Ghani’s offer and instead showed a willingness to talk directly with the United States.

In a statement issued June 4, referring to the Kabul and Indonesia conferences, Taliban said that religious conferences, under the name of Afghan and other Islamic countries are held at the behest of Americans “… to issue Islamic decrees against Taliban and challenge the legitimate jihad from religious perspective.”

The Taliban statement seemed to be in reference to the comments of Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support who said during a press conference in March in Kabul that Taliban would be put under diplomatic, religious and military pressure.

“There will be religious pressure applied to the Taliban with the Ulemas [Islamic scholars] hosted in Indonesia and elsewhere to strip away the religious legitimacy for jihad in Afghanistan,” Gen. Nicholson said at the time.(R/R04/RS5)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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