News / Asia

Talks Between Afghan, Pakistani Clerics Reportedly Hit Snag

Sharon Behn
— A delegation of Afghan religious leaders was in Islamabad Monday for talks with their Pakistan counterparts on the reconciliation process between militants and the Afghan government. Despite all efforts, the meeting appears to have ended in a deadlock.

A group of eight Afghan religious scholars held a 10-hour session in Islamabad with their Pakistani religious counterparts to discuss the details of a special religious gathering, or "ulema jirga," to be held in the Afghan capital Kabul to help secure a peaceful future for Afghanistan as international forces leave that country in 2014.

But after Monday's talks, a member of the Pakistani delegation, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, told VOA that the two sides had failed to produce a written agreement on what he said were the Pakistani side's two basic conditions for the Kabul gathering: first, that the Afghan Taliban be included in it; and, second, that no religious edicts, or fatwas, be issued against the Afghan Taliban and no statements be made in favor of the Afghan government.

"First, we told them please invite the Afghan Taliban in this conference, and secondly, we think in this conference the people, the ulema, will not give any fatwa against any group," said Ashrafi.

Agreement needed

Ashrafi said the Pakistani religious delegation would only go to Kabul when the Afghan Peace Council agreed to the two conditions set out.

At a press conference Monday after the Islamabad meeting, another Pakistan delegation member, Mufti Abu Huraira Mohiuddin, made no mention of the two conditions, but said 250 religious scholars from each country would participate in the "ulema jirga" sometime in March, following a high level meeting in Kabul planned for February 21.

Previously, it had been suggested that the Islamic scholars could meet to issue a religious edict, or fatwa, against suicide bombings, a common Taliban tactic in Afghanistan. It is unclear where that initiative currently stands.

Reviving negotiations

The religious talks parallel a series of high-level political and military meetings between Kabul and Islamabad, and reflect efforts made by Afghanistan, Pakistan and the international community to kick-start Afghan reconciliation talks.

Moeed Yusuf, South Asia adviser at the United States Institute of Peace, said the conflict in Afghanistan appears to have reached a stalemate. That development, combined with the realization that international troops will be out of Afghanistan within 22 months, has pushed all domestic and foreign players toward compromise. Yusuf said it is unclear, though, where all these efforts will end up.

"I don’t think there is a coherent plan behind them. The only thing everybody knows is they need to keep trying whatever they can, and any conversation, any dialogue, is better than none, and the only urgency is now to somehow get Pakistan to push the Afghan Taliban to sit on the table and start talking," said Yusuf.

Analysts say it is unclear how cohesive the Taliban is, and how much control the leaders will have over their fighters if a compromise agreement is reached. But some of the Pakistani religious scholars who have political backing are believed to have some influence over the insurgency.

Eye on Kabul

Previous attempts to hold a meeting of religious scholars from the two countries have failed, with each side accusing the other of political maneuvering. But Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasool said earlier Monday he hoped a meeting would take place within weeks.

God willing, he said, this gathering will be held in Kabul in the first two weeks of March, which in and of itself is a development.

As part of the ongoing peace process, Pakistan recently released a number of Afghan Taliban detainees.

Gen. Gunter Katz, spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan, confirmed Monday that the pullout of military hardware from Afghanistan through neighboring Pakistan has begun.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid