Pak clerics boycott Kabul meet

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani clerics upset with anti-Taleban comments coming out of Afghanistan said on Monday they will boycott a conference of religious leaders being held to denounce violence and press for a peaceful end to the 11-year-old Afghan war.

By (AP)

Published: Wed 20 Feb 2013, 11:29 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:32 PM

The head of the Pakistani clerics, Mufti Abu Huraira Mohiuddin sent a letter to his Afghan counterpart on Sunday announcing the move. In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AP, Mohiuddin accused some Afghan clerics of using “unsavory language” against the Taleban and said the conference was shaping up to be a one-sided attack on the Taleban rather than a conference to press for peace. The letter appeared to put an end to an initiative that began last November when Islamabad and Kabul announced the plan to hold a peace conference.

The ambitious initiative called for 500 clerics from Pakistan and Afghanistan to gather in Kabul in March to present a united front opposing violence, denouncing suicide bombings and urging all sides in the protracted conflict to pursue peace. At the time, the plan was touted as a sign of improving relations between Islamabad and Kabul. But the latest dispute highlights the difficulty of getting the squabbling neighbours to sit together. Still, Pakistan is seen as key to any peace agreement with Taleban insurgents ahead of the 2014 withdrawal of Nato and US troops from Afghanistan, and it’s believed that Islamabad is the best hope of getting the Taleban to enter into serious negotiations.

The Taleban were given office space in Qatar last year when the US and Taleban opened secret talks. But those discussions stalled after the US refused to release five Taleban from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Yet the Taleban have participated in at least two international conferences and US and European officials say the Taleban are in touch with representatives of 30 to 40 countries.

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