Indian, Afghan clerics jointly call on Taliban to stop attacks on civilians
Muslim clerics from India and Afghanistan have for the first time jointly issued a declaration describing the war in Afghanistan as “illegitimate” and calling on the Taliban to halt attacks targeting civilian institutions and public infrastructure.
The declaration was issued following a meeting of the clerics from the two countries held at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi on Wednesday, according to a statement issued by the Afghan foreign ministry on Thursday.
The “First gathering of Islamic scholars of Afghanistan and India” brought together religious scholars and “ulema” or clerics from different Islamic institutions of the two countries. The gathering issued a joint declaration that called for an immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan.
“The war and violence perpetrated against the government and people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan by the Taliban, and targeting of civilian institutions and public infrastructures by the Taliban goes against the basic teachings of Islam and therefore it is illegitimate and has no religious justification,” the declaration said.
The declaration added: “Islam is a religion of peace and it urges harmony and unity among Muslims, hence we call on both warring parties in Afghanistan to stop war and declare an immediate nationwide ceasefire.”
The scholars and clerics from both countries called on the Taliban and the Afghan government to “rise to the occasion and seize this rare opportunity to accelerate their negotiations for establishing a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan”.
“We support the steps taken by the government of Afghanistan to pave the way for reaching an enduring peace,” the declaration said.
Noting that Afghanistan has made remarkable progress in various spheres in the past 19 years, the scholars and clerics called for the “hard-gained achievements to be preserved and protected”.
“We call on other ulema and Islamic scholars to come forward in support of the peace process in Afghanistan and raise their voice against the heinous attacks on innocent people and to call on the Taliban to agree to a nationwide ceasefire and embrace peace,” the declaration said.
Cities across Afghanistan have witnessed a spate of attacks in recent weeks, targeting civil society activists, human rights workers and members of the media. Dozens have been killed in these attacks, and interior minister Massoud Andarabi has blamed the Taliban for certain killings across the country. The group has denied involvement in the attacks.
The attacks have led to questions and concerns about the troubled peace talks between government representatives and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
Following a recent visit to Islamabad by a high-level Taliban delegation to discuss the peace process, several videos emerged of Taliban leaders acknowledging that the group’s top leadership is based in Pakistan and that it is consulted for all decisions related to the peace talks. The videos also showed Taliban leaders visiting terror training camps in Pakistan.
Reacting to these videos, the Afghan foreign ministry said the “overt presence and activities of Afghan insurgent elements and their leaders in Pakistani territory clearly violate Afghanistan’s national sovereignty and continue to cause crisis and instability in the region”. It urged the Pakistan government “not to allow its territory to be used by insurgents and elements who insist on continuing the war”.