Afghan-Pak ulema moot in March
KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai and President Asif Ali Zardari have agreed to hold a joint conference of Afghan and Pakistani ulema in Kabul next month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
A ministry statement said the agreement came at the just-concluded London talks hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron between the two leaders on his country's retreat on Sunday and Monday.
On Monday, a member of the Afghanistan High Peace Council, Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, told Pajhwok Afghan News that a delegation of the council members would travel to Pakistan next week to discuss the agenda for the proposed conference.
The conference is believed aimed at winning religious backing for the peace process, but the effort suffered a setback last month when Afghan ambassador in Islamabad confirmed the ulema conference had officially been postponed.
The gathering was earlier scheduled to be held by the end of January in Kabul, and then rescheduled in February.
Pakistani officials say Islamabad has formed a five-member organising committee for talks with the Afghan delegation.
The idea of holding the conference was first floated when Afghan High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani visited Islamabad in November. Pakistan threw its support behind the proposal and had assured its cooperation.
Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Umar Daudzai, had recently met Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) to discuss the conference.
The JUI-F chief is believed to wield considerable influence on the Afghan Taliban, who have rejected the conference as nothing short of ‘clear American intrigue’.
A Taliban policy statement in December said the conference was aimed at surveying Afghan religious scholars’ opinion regarding the 11-year jihad.
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