Meeting in Kabul of clerics from across Afghanistan begins

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Afghan politicians call for inclusivity at clerics’ gathering; Calls raised for inclusion of women, journalists at clerics’ gathering

The anticipated gathering of clerics from across Afghanistan was held in Kabul on Thursday to discuss the current Afghan situation.

It was attended by Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund and other top members of the Islamic Emirate as well as thousands of clerics from across the country.

“The problems with the Islamic Emirate will be solved through engagement. If we don’t join hands, it doesn’t matter from which language and tribe–the enemy is monitoring us,” Mullah Hassan Akhund said.

During the meeting, the sound of gunfire was heard near the gathering in Kabul and sporadic gunfire can also be heard in a video circulating on social media.

However, Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, tweeted that “there are no problems around the gathering, and security forces fired several shots at a suspicious location.”

Speaking to the assembly, Prime Minister Mullah Hassan Akhund said there are problems that the Islamic Emirate is trying to solve, and “the enemy” — inside or outside the country — must know it will be prevented from causing disruptions in Afghanistan.

Also speaking at the gathering, Nasrullah Waezi, a representative from Bamiyan, called for the reopening of girls’ schools above the 6th grade and for “acceptance, intimacy and brotherhood” among citizens.

“I offer that there should be efforts to form the mechanism which was pledged to the people about reopening schools for our sisters and mothers,” he said.

Waezi criticized the freezing of Afghanistan’s foreign assets and argued that the funds should be released since they belong to the Afghan people.

The participants of the gathering provided various opinions and some remarks were very strong, such as Mawlawi Mujeeb Rahman Ansari calling for the beheading of those who oppose the current government.

“There are three major problems in this gathering. The people of Afghanistan do not know what is going on in the gathering and there is a vacuum of information,” said Mehdi Afzali, an international relations analyst.

Meanwhile, Afghan politicians expressed criticism about the gathering of Islamic clerics and stressed the need for inclusivity at the gathering.

They say that without the participation of political figures at such gatherings, the door for the recognition of the Islamic Emirate will not be reopened.

“If those individuals who are influential in different aspects participated, the council will surely find a good way to benefit the nation of Afghanistan and it would be effective for recognition of the Islamic Emirate by the international community,” Sayed Ishaq Gailani, leader of the National Solidarity Movement of Afghanistan.

Prominent Afghan leaders including former President Hamid Karzai, former chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, and Fazal Hadi Muslimyar, former chairman of the Senate Committee, were not invited to the gathering.

Meanwhile, the analysts said that the Islamic clerics cannot find effective ways to tackle all type of Afghan crisis.

“This gathering is a gathering of the Taliban and the legitimacy is within the Taliban,” said Torek Farhadi, a political analyst.

“Traders, youth, women from every region of Afghanistan should participate in gatherings to discuss the future fate,” said Fazal Hadi Wazeen, a university instructor.

Meanwhile, a number of civil society activists, journalists, and others said that the “Gathering of Islamic Clerics” is not inclusive and they called on the officials to involve women, youth and media in the gathering.

The gathering, according to them, will be pointless without the participation of women and the media.

“If they had invited critics, women, scholars, youth, media, politicians to the gathering, we would have seen the news coverage of them through the media,” said Ahmad Nabil Ghazizada, a civil society activist of Badakhshan.

“We have many brave and active women who should attend this gathering,” said Shabnam Shahriyar, an activist in Badakhshan.

Meanwhile, women called on the participants at the gathering to decide on the reopening of girls’ schools above 6th grade in the country.

“Girls have the right to go to school and study. It has been a year that schools have been closed to girls,” said Zainab, a student.

“I ask the Islamic Emirate to reopen girls’ school,” said Mastora, another student.

The decision to forbid media from covering the event from the hall has sparked reactions from a number of journalists.

“Not covering programs like the Loya Jirga–I don’t think that this Loya Jirga will benefit the Afghan people and be accepted by the Afghan people,” said Lal Mah Hasrat, a reporter.

“Unfortunately, the current government, which is responsible for leading the country, does not inform the media so that the public may be informed about the programs, the agenda, that the Loya Jirga that has been held, the scholars who have been invited, and the decisions that have been made,” said Bais Hakimi, another reporter.

“We hope that the Islamic Emirate puts an end to the current problems by holding this gathering in Afghanistan,” said Sami Allah, a resident of Badakhshan.

Since, the Islamic Emirate came to power, this is the first nationwide gathering in the country.

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