Panellists seek support of elders and Ulema in calling for violence reduction
HERAT - Radio panellists sought the support of the country’s Ulema and community elders in calling for a reduction in violence and a long-term ceasefire during a series of radio programmes in the western provinces.
Speaking during UNAMA-backed radio discussions broadcast in Badghis, Farah, Ghor and Herat provinces, panellists representing civil society, academia, women and religious organizations, said Ulema are uniquely placed to influence both the government and Taliban to reduce violence in the country.
“Ulema are respected both by the government and the Taliban,” said civil society activist, Rafiq Shahir on Herat’s Mozhdeh Radio. “They have the power to talk to both parties and demand an end to the war.”
Afghanistan’s religious scholars, known as Ulema, play a crucial role in setting moral and ethical standards for communities. They often work as peace brokers and are respected at all levels of society, exerting influence on individual and community decisions.
Participants discussed how the country was at a critical juncture with a real prospect for long term peace. Still, continuous violence remains a constant threat and Afghans fear that it could derail the Afghanistan peace negotiations in Doha.
Abdul Hai Khatibi, a tribal elder from Ghor, underscored the need for unity and that the time to end the war was now. He recounted how jirgas and elders have helped maintain local peace, mediated between rival parties and resolved complex national issues for centuries.
“Afghanistan is a country of Jirgas, we come together to resolve issues,” argued Khatibi. “The Taliban and government are all Afghans, and use the same land, speak the same language, have the same culture and religion, and all are related to each other.”
Another panellist, Adela Kabiri, a lecturer at Herat University, said that the coronavirus pandemic should be enough reason to stop the fighting by both parties.
“COVID-19 is the common enemy,” she said. “A ceasefire is needed right now because it will allow health workers to reach people, especially those in remote areas, in dire need of health care and other essential services.”
The radio series was organized by the UNAMA field offices in Herat and broadcast by Mozhdeh and Faryad Radio in Herat, Naraiman Radio in Badghis, Donay-e Naw radio in Farah and Sada-e Adalat radio in Ghor.
Participants unanimously reiterated the need to end the conflict which they said had caused devastation and untold suffering to millions of Afghans for decades.