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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill 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.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs