Indonesia to host Pakistani, Afghan scholars for peace conference

Indonesia will host a meeting of “ulema” (Islamic scholars) from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia next week in an effort to support the Afghan peace process, the country’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla announced. (AFP)
Updated 05 May 2018
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Indonesia to host Pakistani, Afghan scholars for peace conference

  • Indonesia will host a meeting of “ulema” (Islamic scholars) from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia next week
  • Kalla said Indonesia could play a role in building peace in Afghanistan by hosting the meeting on May 11

JAKARTA: Indonesia will host a meeting of “ulema” (Islamic scholars) from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia next week in an effort to support the Afghan peace process, the country’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla announced on Thursday.
In a concluding speech at a three-day gathering of international Muslim scholars, Kalla said Indonesia could play a role in building peace in Afghanistan by hosting the meeting on May 11. It was scheduled to be held in March in Jakarta but was delayed after a call from the Taliban to boycott it.
“We hope to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, we still have a problem there,” Kalla said.
The plan to hold the meetings of the ulema from Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan arose after a delegation from the Afghan High Peace Council led by its chairman Karim Khalili visited Indonesia in November. The council had asked Indonesia to support the peace process in Afghanistan through the ulema’s role.
The plan was further discussed when Kalla visited Kabul in late February to attend the Kabul Process conference, where he was the guest of honor.
“The people will listen to the ulema and they have trust in fatwas that the ulema issued,” Kalla said.
Afghan cleric Fazal Ghani Kakar, who was one of the participants in the conference, confirmed that the meeting will take place and that he has been invited to attend.
Kakar, who is the former chairman of Afghanistan’s Nahdlatul Ulama, said that the meeting would be timely because there was an urgent need to find resolution to the problem in Afghanistan, which he said was suffering from radicalism and extreme interpretation of Islam.
“The core issue will be how to build trust between the Afghan and Pakistan ulema because both sides have their own influence on the warring factions in Afghanistan,” Kakar told journalists at the vice presidential palace.
“This will be the first round and we hope this will open the gate for further discussion,” Kakar said.
He said that he had high hopes for the meeting because “most of the extreme ideas are coming from the Pakistani side, so sitting with the Pakistani ulema is the first step together to reach a better solution.”
He said that there would be at least five ulema from Afghanistan attending, and ulema from the Taliban were expected to come because the political faction of the Taliban has expressed interest in joining the meeting.
“We are very thankful for Indonesia; it has always played its role in brokering peace within the country, and in neighboring countries. We are looking forward to this being a good step for Afghanistan,” Kakar said.
Rifqi Muna, a foreign policy researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, told Arab News that there was a lot that Indonesia could share from its experience as a Muslim-majority country with a stable democracy that has had its own share of seccesionist and communal conflicts.
“We are not lecturing them, but there are best practices experiences that we can share, so it is necessary for Indonesia to take part in pushing for peace process in conflict-torn countries,” Muna said.
“Facilitating a place for conflicting parties to meet is a step to build peace and for conflict resolution,” he said.


UK warns there will be no Brexit deal unless EU softens on Irish border

Updated 21 September 2018
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UK warns there will be no Brexit deal unless EU softens on Irish border

  • Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, yet little is clear
  • Some rebels have vowed to vote against a possible Brexit deal

LONDON: Britain will leave the EU without a deal unless the bloc’s leaders soften their position on the Irish border, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC.
EU leaders abruptly cautioned May on Thursday that unless she gave ground on trade and the Irish border by November they are ready to cope with Britain crashing out.
“At the moment what the European Union is asking in and around Northern Ireland is simply impossible for any UK government to accept. And actually, if they stick with that position, there will be no deal,” Grayling said.
“There’s tough language and actually a deal is done at the last. And I’m still confident that we will reach agreement,” he added.
Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, yet little is clear: There is, so far, no divorce deal, rivals to May are circling and some rebels have vowed to vote against a possible Brexit deal.