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Kabul losing cleric support

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration is struggling to shore up support from an Islamic council, which appears to be shifting to anti-government views at a time when it is being asked to play a key role in persuading Taliban insurgents to surrender their arms.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2010 02:28 IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration is struggling to shore up support from an Islamic council, which appears to be shifting to anti-government views at a time when it is being asked to play a key role in persuading Taliban insurgents to surrender their arms.

The Ulema Council, composed of 3,000 clerics, has long been counted on to spread a pro-government message and keep the government informed about popular opinion. It pays each cleric a stipend of $100 and expects support for its agenda.

However, few weeks ago 350 Ulema members voted to demand that Karzai implement sharia law, a strict Islamic code that includes severe punishments, such as death by stoning for adultery.

Without government support from the council, Daudzai said, clerics sympathetic to the Taliban can win influence over the populace.

Keeping the clerics on board can be critical as NATO forces ramp up a surge this fall to clear Taliban strongholds.

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Musharraf tried to save Taliban

Following 9/11, when the US had made up its mind to bombard Afghanistan, Pakistan’s ISI and then President Pervez Musharraf made full efforts to save the Taliban and tried to persuade the Bush administration to hold a dialogue with the Taliban, according to recently released documents. Pakistan also attempted to protect dreaded Al Qaeda supremo Osama Bin Laden.

ANI, New Delhi