Pakistani, Afghan scholars to discuss status of Afghan war today

Author: Tahir Khan

Pakistani and Afghan religious scholars will hold a conference on Thursday to discuss if the on-going war in Afghanistan is justified, people familiar with the conference have said.

Afghanistan has long been demanding holding a joint conference of “ulema” to issue an edict against the war and suicide attacks like the one issued by Pakistani scholars in 2016.

Over 1800 scholars of all schools of thought issued a unanimous “fatwa” against terrorism and extremism. The decree “Paigham e Pakistan” while condemning extremism and terrorism had declared the supporters of suicide bombing as traitors. The religious decree had defined “jihad” as being the purview of the state and disallowed the use of force to compel obedience to Islamic laws.

Afghanistan had shown dismay at the Pakistani edict as they insisted that Afghanistan was missed in the declaration.

Kabul and the pro-government scholars had been urging Pakistani scholars to declare suicide attack and violent extremism as against Islamic injunctions. However, the response was lukewarm from the Pakistani scholars.

Finally, Saudi Arabia-based the World Muslim League (Rabitat al-Alam al-Islami) has agreed to host the virtual event on Thursday. Pakistani and Afghan ministers for religious affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and Qasim Haleemi will participate via video link from Saudi Arabia while Pakistani ulema will gather at the ministry of foreign affairs and Afghan scholars will be joining the conference from Kabul. Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz is also part of the Pakistani delegation.

The prime minister’s adviser on religious harmony, Allama Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, told Daily Times on Wednesday that the conference will discuss the role of Pakistani scholars in the Afghan peace process.

“We have always said that Pakistani religious scholars are ready to help in the peace process,” said Ashrafi, who will also preside over a session at the conference.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the conference as “politically-motivated” and said fatwas are also issued for political purposes.

“No one has contacted the Islamic Emirate about the Afghan conflict and the conference. They have not sought our opinions about the fatwas and its religious aspects. Such meetings have been held in the past on the behest of the Kabul administration but these events have not produced any results,” Mujahid told Daily Times in a whatsapp message.

The Taliban spokesman said the armed struggle which he called “Jihad” in Afghanistan was started in accordance with a decree issued by the Afghan ulema and the struggle will not be affected by a decree by any other country.

It is unclear if Thursday’s conference will issue any decree against the Afghan war or issue a statement to condemn the hostilities.

Pakistani scholars previously refused to hold a joint meeting with the Afghan clerics but some of the country’s known personalities have been invited to attend.

It is learnt that Mufti Taqi Usmani, vice president of Jamia Darul Uloom Karachi and Mufti Abdul Rahim, head of Jamia Rasheed Karachi would be among influential scholars to participate in the conference. Scholars from Darool Uloom Haqqania Akora Khattak will also join the meeting.

The Karachi-based scholars and Haqqania, all belonging to the Deobandi schools of thought, are considered sympathizers of the Afghan Taliban.

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