Afghanistan

Peace negotiations a golden opportunity for Afghanistan say northeast religious leaders

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FAIZABAD – Afghan Peace Negotiations represent a historic milestone and offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the conflict to an end, said participants at a gathering to discuss peace in the northeastern city of Faizabad.

Organised by the Provincial Peace and Mediation Network with support from UNAMA, more than forty participants --mostly religious leaders from the provincial capital and surrounding districts—voiced their backing to the peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban taking place in Qatar.

They called on both parties to find common ground and explore all options to reach a workable political solution in the interest of all Afghans.

“We are eager for peace,” said Mawlawi Hamiduddin from Baharak district. “Both sides must show flexibility and patience during the negotiations to reach consensus for a peace agreement.”

Another participant from Argo district, Mawlawi Mohibulla, said that the country must rally in support of what is a golden and rare opportunity to bring peace to the country once and for all.

“Afghanistan cannot lose this chance, if we lose this chance, we are doomed to a life of war and misery,” stressed Mohibulla.

Participants also stressed the importance of religious leaders in cultivating broad support for the negotiations and urged them to reach out to their constituencies and communities to drum up support for the peace process.

Mawlawi Noorul Haq Noori, the director of Badakhshan Department of Hajj and Awqaf, spoke about the role of religious leaders as peacemakers and peace brokers.

“When you witness two groups of believers fighting don’t be onlookers, interfere and change the conflict to peace,” he said, quoting from Islamic sources. “When one of the conflicting sides raises its voice for peace, another side should accept it.”

Afghanistan’s religious scholars, known as Ulema, play a crucial role in setting moral and ethical standards for their communities. They often work as peace brokers and mediators for conflict resolution and are respected at many levels of society, exerting influence on individual and community decisions.

Echoing other Afghan voices, the participants appealed to both parties to consider a ceasefire. The event was supported by the UNAMA field office in Kunduz and reached around 200,000 through a broadcast by Radio Sada-e-Banowan.

UNAMA continues to work with a broad range of actors --including religious leaders, provincial councils, community elders, youth groups and women-- to create platforms using radio, social media and television for Afghans to engage in local dialogues on pressing issues affecting their communities.