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High expectations as Jakarta meeting nears

AT-KABUL:  A group of 20 members of Afghan religious scholars has landed in Jakarta, despite the Taliban insurgent’s efforts to induce Pakistani religious clerics to boycott the Indonesian government’s efforts to broker a peace deal in Afghanistan.

The 20-member Afghan Ulema group is led by Mualvi Qeyamuddin Kashaf—and besides Indonesians, Islamic scholars from Pakistan would also attend the conference, it has been reported.

The conference of scholars from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia in Jakarta is aimed at offering the scholars a joint platform to discuss how they can best contribute to the peace process in Afghanistan.

Discussions would focus on highlighting Islamic teachings regarding the imperative of peace and brotherhood among Muslims. The conference, slated for May 11, will take place at the Bogor Palace.

Four days back, High Peace Council (HPC) spokesman, Sayed EhsanTaheri, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the conference would review fatwas released outside of the country in support of the ongoing war against the Afghan government.

He had said that the Jakarta meeting was important for Afghanistan and a joint statement would be also issued after the end of the conference.

However, the Taliban leaders have called on Pakistani religious clerics to boycott the Indonesian government’s efforts to broker a peace deal in war-ravaged Afghanistan ahead of an international conference of religious scholars, according to reports, underlining the desperate efforts of the group to drill any peace attempt in the country.

Reports stated that the Talban sent a letter to Pakistani clerics including Pakistani Ulema Council chairman Mawlana Tahir Ashrafi, calling for a boycott of the peace meeting slated to be hosted in Indonesia.

The boycott threat comes in a critical time as the country is struggling to end the long dragging conflict through peace parleys and reconciliation, and for that matter, Indonesia has undertaken to host an international conference expected to have the support of religious clerics from Islamic countries against the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, there is a high hope over the conference to be held on Afghan peace on Friday in Jakarta. The peace conference is important from several aspects. Indonesia has historically remained neutral in Afghan conflict, neither has it been accused of favoring any side to the conflict, nor were its ties with Kabul very noticeable until Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid a visit to Afghanistan early this year. Moreover, Pakistan as a key supporter to the militants in fueling conflict in Afghanistan by supporting several insurgent groups, also does not have very strong relations with Indonesia. Noting this, Jakarta can serve as a favorable, impartial mediator in the Afghan conflict.

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