Peace efforts should be accelerated: Badakhshan clerics

Monitoring Desk

KABUL: Religious scholars at a gathering in the north-eastern Badakhshan province called on militants to enter talks with the Afghan government as the group repeatedly refuses to meet President Ghani’s delegation over the past few months.

Taliban has been asked frequently by the Afghan government to meet its delegations in last four months as the US and President Ghani’s administration have accelerated their efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

The high advisory board for peace and the peace delegation of the Afghan government were established last year in December. According to the High Peace Council, the government’s peace delegation has the responsibility of moving on peace talks with the Taliban.

The Badakhshan clerics said they are “optimistic” about the peace process but they stressed that the process “should be accelerated”.

“Peace in society, peace in a country and peace in a family all own a great place in religion,” said Mawlawi Zia, a religious scholar in Badakhshan.

“Considering the current situation in Afghanistan, Badakhshan religious scholars held this gathering to discuss issues around peace and reconciliation,” said Mohibullah Shamsi, a religious scholar in Badakhshan.

According to US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, there is a consensus among Afghans on peace talks with the Taliban. Khalilzad visited Kabul on Tuesday for the third time in less than four months to discuss “next steps” in the peace process.

Local officials in Badakhshan said peace is a requirement for development of the country as they stressed the need for a wide support to peace all over Afghanistan.

“Development, justice and equality in a country and region level are dependent on peace,” said Noorul Haq Noori, Head of Badakhshan Hajj and Religious Affairs.

“We should have tolerance. It is a must for peace and stability in the country,” said Mawlawi Hafizullah, deputy head of Badakhshan Provincial Council.

The new improvements have made the people optimistic about peace, a Badakhshan resident Abdul Rahman Talat said, adding that the armed groups should lay down their arms and join the peace process.

This comes as Taliban in a statement on Jan. 15 said the United States is not discussing troop withdrawal with the group and that the US is bringing “new issues” in talks agenda. Taliban warned that “they will have to suspend the peace talks if the situation prevails”.

Taliban criticized “tactical pressure” by the US on the group through other countries and says that the address for talks with the Taliban is their political office in Qatar. (TOLOnews)