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September 30, 2018
The Kabul Times
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S. Arabia’s Ulema Conference & its impact on peace in Afghanistan

On the eve of Ulema conference in Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government has urged Taliban to stop fighting and recognizePresident Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s led administration.In invitation letters sent to Pakistan and Afghan scholars on behalf of OIC, the kingdom slammed all armed groups active in the country as terrorists.
The International Ulema Conference for peace, security and reconciliation in Afghanistan is to be held in Jeddah and Makkah on July 10 and 11 respectively. A key objective behind the conference is to reject “erroneous interpretations of Islamic views by terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan”.
Meanwhile, the Imam of Haramain Sharifain has hailed the upcoming ulema conference as crucial, saying it would improve the kingdom’s role in the Afghan peace process.He said the Saudis loved Afghanistan and its people and prayed for the restoration of peace in the war-torn country.
Since Mohammed bin Salman was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in June 2017, the Saudi monarchy has stepped up its criticisms of countries that continue to provide financial support, military aid, or diplomatic legitimacy to the Taliban. This shift in policy can be explained by Riyadh’s desire to align its policies more closely with U.S. efforts to cut the Taliban off from international sponsors.
To encourage more Taliban members to accept a political settlement, Saudi Arabia has offered itself as a venue for clerics and religious scholars who believe that Taliban’s ongoing prosecution of the war in Afghanistan violates Islamic principles. On April 28, 2018, the Afghan High Peace Council announced that a conference would be hosted in Jeddah in July, featuring Islamic scholars who believe that Taliban’s struggle for power in Afghanistan is illegal under Islamic law.
Indeed, such conferences are needed to be held more frequently not only in Afghanistan but also in other Muslim countries. Terrorists are destructing the image of Islam and thereligion is not that of Afghans only, but it pertains to more than 2 billion people around the world. Terrorism and extremism are the greatest challenges facing the Muslim Ummah today and therefore it becomes the responsibility of the Islamic thinkers, scholars and Ulema to counter those wrong interpretation and misuse of Islamic codes.
After the formation of the National Unity Government (NUG) in Afghanistan, President Ghani traveled to Saudi Arabia thrice and also released a statement in support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen war and joined the anti “terrorism” coalition under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. In addition, the Chief Executive also raised the issue of organizing a conference of Muslim Ulema in his visit to Saudi Arabia in October 2016.
Utilizing its improved relations with Saudi Arabia, the Afghan government is making efforts to hold such a conference in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia as the most important Islamic country on the one hand, and OIC an important Islamic organization on the other hand are important in achieving outcomes that the Afghan government expects from such conference.

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