Jakarta. Islamic scholars from Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan denounced violent extremism, terrorism and suicide attacks as against Islamic principles, in a declaration issued during a conference in Bogor, West Java, on Friday (11/05).
The Trilateral Ulema Conference was hosted at Bogor Palace by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), in an effort to promote an inclusive peace process in Afghanistan.
"As one family of ummah [the Muslim community], we support an inclusive peace process and stand ready to contribute constructively to the process, while recognizing various efforts and peace offers to find viable solutions for peace in Afghanistan," the participating ulema said in the declaration.
The conference was opened by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"The meeting is part of Indonesia's commitment to promote the role of ulema in realizing inclusive peace in Afghanistan. ... We know the road to peace is never easy, but as people of faith we must believe in God's help and never lose hope or give up," the president said.
The conference was proposed at Jokowi's meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain, during a state visit to South Asia earlier this year. Both countries suffer from the presence of Taliban extremists, who often cross their porous border.
Indonesia and Afghanistan have increased cooperation in peacebuilding after Ghani's visit to Jakarta in April 2017. In February this year, Vice President Jusuf Kalla was guest of honor at the second conference of the Kabul Process, an Afghan-led initiative aimed at establishing peace, security and stability in the war-torn country.
"Our end goal is peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban. This is the beginning of our efforts to urge them to sit together to reach that peace … Peace can be achieved through negotiation, dialogue. This is the start of a longer process," Kalla told reporters on Friday.
At the Kabul Process conference, Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group.
The Taliban have, however, rejected to attend the conference.
"There were no ulama representatives from the Taliban, because this conference was proposed by the countries' ulema councils and their respective governments. So the Taliban are not yet part of this, but they have expressed their support for the peace process," Kalla said.
According to the chairman of the Afghan branch of Nahdlatul Ulama, Fazal Ghani Kakar, more meetings such as the Bogor conference are expected in the future.
"We see it as a positive thing toward further talks and negotiations," he said.