Kabul gathering stresses conditions-free peace talks
KABUL (Pajhwok): Influential individuals, religious scholars and former jihadis on Thursday held a gathering in the capital Kabul, calling for the long-anticipated peace talks to be started soon without preconditions.
The gathering at the Loya Jirga’s tent titled “Islam is religion of justice, brotherhood, there is no place for extremism in Islam” was arranged by Qutbuddin Helal, a senior member of the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan (HIA)’s non-violent faction led by Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal.
Helal told the gathering their aim was to support Islam and the Afghan nation, not a party or individual. But some participants chanted “long live mujahidin leader Gulbaddin Hekmatyar.”
Hekmatyar leads the HIA faction, which has been waging an insurgency against the government and its foreign backers.
Helal said the government should negotiate with the Taliban to end the violence. “If we follow Islamic principles, we will find justice and freedom,” he said.
He said there were high hopes two months ago that the peace talks would begin, but the government later said it would make no compromise on achievements made over the past 13 years.
“Can you tell me what you have achieved in 13 years that you will lose,” he asked the government.
Helal said no party had won the war during the past 13 years and there were no signs the violence would come to an end in another 13 years.
“The only way to achieve peace is flexibility and agreeing with each other. Peace talks must be started without any condition because peace will be the biggest acheivement.”
The former presidential candidate dubbed the national unity government as illegal, asking the leaders to appoint ministers and governors soon to clear the country’s fate.
Former vice-president Mohammad Yunus Qanuni, who attended the gathering, said there was no place for extremism in Islam. “Those who interpret Islam as an extremism ideology knows nothing about Islam,” he added.
He said violence was a negative phenomenon but it was intentionally attributed to Islam by some political forces to defame the holy religion.
About peace, Qanuni said “peace is the demand of every Afghan, we need peace, we should win it, and we want an end to the armed struggle. Fortunately, more opportunities are available today for peace negotiations.”
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