Jakarta (Agenzia Fides) - Important Muslim scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia met from 11 May in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, to discuss and develop a way in the conflict that has blooded Afghanistan for decades. At the "Trilateral Ulema Conference" organized by the Indonesian government, scholars and religious leaders from three countries discussed various challenges to the narrative of the "holy war" promoted by the Taliban as a way to liberate the country from US-led forces.
Scholars hope to be able to persuade the Taliban to sit down at the negotiating table with the government. These, removed from power in 2001 after US forces invaded Afghanistan, are leading a bloody armed rebellion.
The conflict in Afghanistan not only has political reasons, it is stated, but it is also generated by the differences between tendencies and sects linked to Islam, which is a state religion in Afghanistan. In this context, the role of the Ulama can be important, and from this perspective, the meeting of the religious leaders in Jakarta can be a path to give a contribution to peace. Islamic religious leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan have the opportunity to closely look at the situation in Indonesia and to observe the role and position of Indonesian Ulamas in maintaining social and religious peace in this predominantly Muslim country of Southeast Asia.
The Taliban defined the conference "non-Islamic" and urged Islamic scholars to refrain from participating. But a pronouncement by Islamic religious leaders against the Taliban and against their extremist tactics could deprive them of religious legitimacy. According to Borhan Osman, an Afghan analyst at the "International Crisis Group" study center, "a discussion on the religious dimension of the war in Afghanistan is unprecedented: the idea of the Afghan government to obtain a fatwa from the Ulamas to de-legitimize the fight of the Taliban, who invoke jihad, has never been achieved so far", he said.
According to data from the UN mission in Afghanistan, in the first three months of 2018, over 700 civilians were killed and nearly 1,500 wounded in a series of suicide bombings and attacks by the Taliban and the Islamic State. With such a high number of civilian victims, the outcome of the peace process is uncertain, especially because the Taliban consider the Afghan government a "puppet" of American forces.
According to observers, in order to start a real peace process in Afghanistan, the Taliban should accept an immediate ceasefire, appoint an envoy and a negotiating team and undertake direct talks with Afghanistan and the United States. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 12/5/2018)