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Afghan Ulema Conference
 
 
Mian Saifur Rehman
Sunday, February 03, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

The nomination of five Pakistani Ulema by the Kabul government, under ‘specific’ guidelines from Washington, has been categorically rejected by the Pakistani authorities and prominent religious parties on the plea that they are likely to take sides with the Afghan and American establishment in disregard of the ground realities rooted in the aspirations of Afghan people or the segments representing the popular will, to a greater or lesser degree.

 

‘The News’ has learnt from dependable sources that the Ulema whose names were sent to Pakistan for the proposed Afghan Ulema Conference belonged to Karachi, Multan and Islamabad. These nominations came when Islamabad pushed Kabul not to delay the convening of Afghan Ulema Conference efforts for which started in November and did not progress until January. How could then the main objective of ensuring peace in the region be achieved when the pace was so slow? The sources see hanky panky both in the slow pace and the manner in which things are being handled and doubt the intentions of both the Kabul and Washington regimes and consider all their moves as attempts to lend further support to the Karzai administration.

 

In order to expedite the process, Pakistan had recently nominated its five-member committee to promote the peace process but their names did not please the foreign powers as, according to the latter, the Pak nominees were “more outspoken and held specific views about the Afghan Taliban”.

 

During the same period, a parallel development has reinforced the viewpoint that Kabul and its allies or sponsors in the West want to bulldoze the conference to show to the world that they are seriously desirous of peace on the conditions acceptable to the Afghan people but they are simultaneously trying to keep the Afghan Taliban out of the peace process, the sources revealed further.

 

The parallel development, according to sources, is a fresh communication between Mulla Mohammad Omar and some prominent religious parties of Pakistan followed by meetings, during the last week, between the representatives of Afghan Taliban and Pakistan’s religious parties. According to the information available with The News, the Afghan Taliban representatives met senior office-bearers of Pakistan’s JI, JUI- F, JUI- S and Pakistan Ulema Council.

 

The obvious message, apart from other points, was to beware of surreptitious moves aimed at the Afghan Taliban’s ouster. Even the ‘guarded, specified’ nominations were discussed in these meetings that were basically aimed at fulfilling the Kabul government’s designs as well as of its backers in foreign capitals. This move has been strongly criticized by Pakistan’s religious parties including the JI, JUI- F, JUI- S and Pakistan Ulema Council.

 

As a result of these meetings, Pakistan’s religious parties unanimously supported the idea of including the Afghan Taliban in the proposed conference. The sources further revealed that the Kabul government, guided by some foreign powers, is playing a double game as is also evidenced from the fact that it has not yet finalized and conveyed the conference’s agenda to Pakistan despite the latter’s insistence (till the beginning of the current month).

 

According to sources, the purpose of the conference, as declared by the conference organizers, is obtaining ‘Fatawaa’ (edicts) from Islamic scholars against suicide bombings that are ‘Haram’ (forbidden) in religion. Pakistan’s religious parties don’t have any objection to any peace moves but the precondition attached to it is that of ensuring their (peace moves) conformity with true Islamic injunctions. However, if the actual goal of the so-called peace conference is favouring or endorsing Karzai government without participation of the Afghan Taliban, then it would be just counterproductive, say Pakistan’s main religious parties that were sent communication by Mulla Omar, through satellite systems and other channels and also through the representatives of Afghan Taliban.

 

The News has further learnt that the principled stand taken by independent scholars (not the nominated ones) also enjoys the support (the sources say ‘endorsement’) of many diplomats from European Union countries as well as from Islamic countries. It is also known by now that some of these diplomats met the Pakistan Ulema Council chairman and other religious parties’ representatives to ascertain as to what went wrong with the conference’s plan. When they came to know that neither any agenda had been made public (for ulterior motives, obviously) nor willingness shown to invite the Afghan Taliban, they (the diplomats) accepted the plea of Pakistani Ulema/parties rejecting the pro-Karzai or pro-Washington moot.

 

Other well-informed sources inside Pakistan government offices, have also disclosed that both the Foreign Office and Ministry of Religious Affairs have, of late, established contact with the Pakistan Ulema Council with the idea of getting proper and timely input from the country’s Ulema vis-à-vis the Afghan Ulema Conference. The declared objective is making it viable and successful.