Gathering of Afghan clergy urges recognition of Taliban government


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ISLAMABAD — A three-day gathering of Islamic clerics and tribal elders in the Afghan capital ended Saturday with pledges of support for the Taliban and called on the international community to recognize the country’s Taliban-led government.

The Kabul meeting was tailored to the traditional Afghan loya jirgas – regular panels of elders, leaders and prominent figures set up to deliberate on Afghan political issues.

But the overwhelming majority of participants were Taliban officials and supporters, mostly Islamic clerics. Unlike the last Loya Jirga held under the previous US-backed government, women were not allowed to participate.

The former insurgents, who have been in complete control of decision-making since taking over the country last August, touted the gathering as a forum for issues facing Afghanistan.

According to Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari, a cleric who attended the gathering, an 11-point statement released at the end calls on countries in the region and the world, the United Nations, Islamic organizations and others to create a Taliban-run Afghanistan to recognize and remove all sanctions imposed since the Taliban takeover and freeze Afghan assets abroad.

Ansari said that more than 4,500 Islamic clerics and elders who attended reaffirmed their allegiance and allegiance to the supreme leader and spiritual leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Surprisingly, the reclusive Akhundzada arrived in Kabul from his base in southern Kandahar province and addressed the gathering on Friday. It is said to have been his first visit to the Afghan capital since the Taliban seized power.

In his hour-long speech, broadcast on state radio, Akhundzada called the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan a “victory for the Muslim world.”

His appearance added symbolic weight to the gathering. The Taliban are under international pressure to be more inclusive in addressing the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan.

The international community has been wary of any recognition of or cooperation with the Taliban, particularly after they curtailed the rights of women and minorities – actions dating back to their harsh rule when they were last in power in the late 1990s.

Saturday’s 11-point resolution called on the Taliban government to “pay special attention to justice, religious and modern education, health, agriculture, industry, the rights of minorities, children, women and the nation as a whole according to the Islamic holy.” to ensure law. ” The Taliban adhere to their own strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

On Friday, Akhundzada, who rose from a low profile member of the Islamic insurgent movement to leader of the Taliban in a rapid transition of power after a 2016 US drone strike killed his predecessor Mullah Akhtar Mansour, also offered prayers for the victims of the Afghan earthquake.

June’s powerful tremor killed more than 1,000 people in eastern Afghanistan and sparked another crisis for the struggling country. Overwhelmed aid organizations already keeping millions of Afghans alive rushed to deliver aid to the quake victims, but most countries were reluctant to respond to the Taliban’s calls for international aid.

The gathering in Kabul also touched on the Taliban’s biggest rival, the militant group Islamic State, and appealed to Afghans across the country that “any kind of cooperation” with ISIS was forbidden.

On Thursday, at the beginning of the gathering, gunshots were heard near the heavily guarded gathering place, Loya Jirga Hall of Kabul Polytechnic University. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid later told reporters that the security forces fired on someone suspected of having a hand grenade, but that “there is nothing to worry about”.

However, IS claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement said three of his militants climbed onto the roof of a building near the gathering and posted video showing a group of heavily armed men with masked faces saying they were “very close to the gathering Taken Position” are waiting for orders to attack.

The IS affiliate in Afghanistan, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province or IS-K, has been operating since 2014. Since the Taliban takeover, ISIS fighters have launched numerous attacks on Afghanistan’s new rulers, and the Taliban have launched a full-scale crackdown on the country’s eastern stronghold.

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report. Gathering of Afghan clergy urges recognition of Taliban government

Dustin Huang

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