By Arif Qureshi
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) organized a two-day summit having title “International Ulema Conference on Peace and Stability in Afghanistan” co-hosted by the Saudi cities Jeddah and Mecca on July 10 & 11 respectively. The main aim and goal of the conference was to discuss measures for restoration of peace in Afghanistan and to help bring stability in a country that has been a victim of extremism from last 17 years.
Under the patronage of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Saudi minister of Islamic affairs, Sheikh Saleh bin Humaid, Imam of the Grand Mosque, Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, member of the Ifta permanent committee and adviser at the Saudi royal court, and senior Ulema of Kingdom participated in the conference. More than 100 Islamic scholars from 57 countries including A 35-member Ulema delegation from Afghanistan led by head of the Ulema Council, Mawlawi Qayamuddin Kashaf were also part of conference.
Khadim Al-Haramain Al-Sharifain King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud while addressing the Afghan scholars said that Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) efforts would open a new page of security and stability in Afghanistan. King Salman said that we are optimistic that your efforts would contribute to closing the page of the past and opening a new page in Afghanistan that would help realize the aspirations of the Afghan people for security and stability, and this requires adopting an approach of dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance on the lines of our religion of Islam.
In his address, the King said: “You are the best among those who work to serve Islam and Muslims, as well as to unify their words and ranks, and eliminate wars and crises that afflict the Islamic world in addition to the scourges of extremism and terrorism. Almighty Allah honored the Kingdom to serve the Two Holy Mosques and this is what we have always been doing.”
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud reaffirmed that the Kingdom has experienced with the Afghan people their suffering since the beginning of the Afghan crisis and its consequent civil war, whereas the Kingdom has provided humanitarian and economic assistance and exerted continuous political efforts to eliminate division and differences among various Afghan factions. The King thanked them for their efforts and endeavors, wishing the Afghan people every success.
In his opening speech, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on the Afghan government and all components of Afghan society to respond to work toward peace in the country. “Afghanistan has long been on our agenda at the OIC. The organization has always come out in full support of this country, engaging in countless initiatives and actions, both regional and international”.
“Great store is set by this conference to meet the aspirations and hopes of the people who have been torn apart by the fighting and want to see their country return to security, stability and prosperity”.
The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said that this conference comes at a critical time in Afghanistan’s history and It is a matter of huge responsibility for you to live up to what the people of Afghanistan expect. We are confident this conference will be of great benefit not only to Afghanistan but also to the broader Muslim world. The entire Muslim community is looking forward to you correcting the misguided and distorted interpretations of the Islamic teachings, and stand in the way of evildoers mortgaging Islam, stirring up destruction and acting wrongly in the name of Islam.
The OIC Secretary-General, Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, in his concluding remarks said that the declaration represents a legitimate road map for finding peaceful resolution of the Afghan crisis. The declaration called on all the Afghan factions to agree for a ceasefire and start direct peace talks on the basis of the sublime Islamic values of eschewing violence, sedition and division and achieve reconciliation.
“We are urging the Afghan government and the Taliban to agree for a truce and start direct negotiations,” the declaration said while emphasizing that national dialogue is the best way to end the strife.
Dr. Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, underlined the King Salman bin Abdulaziz’s keen interest and commitment to see a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan. He stressed the Muslim scholars have the responsibility to correct misconceptions, help mend fences and sensitize the entire Afghan community to the importance of obeying and assisting their rulers and governors and eschewing strife.
Sheikhul Hadith Mawlawi Qiamuddin Kashaf, Afghanistan’s Ulema Council Chief expressed his gratitude to King Salman bin Abdulaziz for his longstanding support to the Afghan people. He hoped that the conference will help restore peace, security and stability in his country, saying the people are pinning their hopes on the meeting.
After holding meetings in Jeddah and Makkah, scholars and Ulema of the conference unanimously issued a seven-point declaration calling Muslim states, organizations to join efforts and pull their weight towards the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan. The scholars from the Islamic world reaffirmed their support for a just, lasting, comprehensive and acceptable resolution of the ongoing war in Afghanistan and called on both the Afghan government and the Taliban to conform to a truce and ceasefire.
The conference called on Taliban movement to respond positively to the call of the Afghani government to evade violence, stop fighting and sit at a negotiating table to discuss peace and security of the country without pre-conditions.
They lauded the initiative of the Afghani government to start a direct and peaceful negotiations without preconditions and recognize Taliban as a political party with agendas to share in developing the country and its rehabilitation. The participants also thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for hosting the conference and making the initiative a success.
They stated that the only way to end the current crisis in Afghanistan and establish durable peace in the war-ravaged Muslim nation was the resumption of the peace process and national reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban. They also stated that the ongoing violence and killing of innocent people was in contradiction to the teachings of Islam. They also stated that the ongoing violence and killing of innocent people was in contradiction to the teachings of Islam.
Before the conference there were speculation in media that OIC summit may issue a Fatwa against the Taliban Movement and Afghan Taliban also had showed their reservations over the conference but all speculations ended because there was no fatwa issued by the participants against them rather Afghan Taliban were urged through a Joint declaration to sit on the table with afghan Government as a legitimate party of the dispute.