Taliban should not see Indonesia as an extension of the Afghan government or the U.S., Indonesian Ulema Council official said Monday.
The council is supposed to host a trilateral meeting involving Indonesian, Afghan and Pakistani representatives later this month in Jakarta to discuss options to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
On Saturday, the militant organization had termed the peace process initiated in Indonesia as “deceptive” and told religious scholars to boycott the event set for the end of March.
Muhyiddin Junaidi, the council’s head of international relations department, said the Afghan Taliban had not yet received “complete information” about the proposed conference.
“The Taliban might be seeing Indonesia as an extension of the Afghanistan government and foreign powers, especially the U.S.,” Junaidi said.
But, he said, Indonesia remains neutral and unbiased in the Afghan conflict.
“We are neither pro-government nor pro-Taliban,” he said.
He added Indonesia would not take lectures or be patronized by representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Taliban, however, do not seem to be in any mood to participate in the conference.
“Do not afford an opportunity to the invading infidels in Afghanistan to misuse your name and participation in this conference as means of attaining their malicious objective,” the armed group said in a statement.
The Indonesian Ulema Council said it was still evaluating whether the rejection from the Taliban was final or mere posturing in front of the media.
It wants to directly meet Taliban representatives, formally invite them and clearly explain the goals of the summit.
However, the council members said they were still awaiting a greenlight in the matter from the Pakistani government, who continue to “hold the trump card”.
Last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said all stakeholders were willing to accept in Indonesia’s role in brokering the Afghan peace process.
“Indonesia has a good track record in peace diplomacy and we are well-placed to contribute in peace building and the peace process,” Marsudi told journalists last week, referring to the resolution of long-running internal conflicts in Aceh and Ambon.
Meanwhile, the Kabul government is desperately seeking ways and means to put an end to the bloodshed with the Afghan conflict entering its 17th year.
Last month, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani offered a bold peace offer to the Taliban at the Kabul Process conference when he pledged to recognize the armed group as a political group, vowing to free their inmates and remove sanctions against them.
Syed Ehsanuddin Tahiri, spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Peace Council -- a government body tasked to reach a peace deal with the Taliban -- told Anadolu Agency that Indonesia could prove to be an ideal neutral venue for such talks, thanks to its well-versed religious scholars.
"We urge the Taliban to nominate their representatives for the forthcoming conference in Jakarta for the sake of Islam and Afghanistan... Inshallah [God willing] Pakistan would also participate in this Islamic conference in line with the pledges they [Pakistani officials] have made to the Indonesian president [during his latest visit]".
Up to 45 Islamic scholars from the three countries have been invited to gather in Jakarta for discussions ahead of the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Development in Afghanistan.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Copyright Andolu Ajansi