Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 18th, 2021

Insurgency ‘Un-Islamic’ and Contrary to Peace Talks

All Afghans, including ordinary people, religious scholars, and security officials, have raised their concern about the recent wave of systematic and targeted killings. The Taliban leadership holds peace talks and their military commanders and rank and file engage in killing Afghan soldiers and civilians to gain concessions at the negotiating table.
Recently, Afghan clerics condemned the Taliban’s acts of violence saying that the current war in the country had no religious justification and all ethnic groups have the right to live peacefully. Clerics reaffirmed their support to the peace process saying that a system needed to be established in which “all layers of society, all ethnicities, all groups and schools of thought” could see themselves in. They called on the Taliban to stop violence and bloodshed and declare ceasefire. Mawlavi Khudadad Saleh, head of the Herat Ulema Council, is cited as saying, “Shia has the right, Sunni has the right, Hindu has the right to live in Afghanistan, all layers of the society should be considered in talks. We do not talk about an imposed Islam, we talk about the Islam which the Quran talks about. We have respected Ulema in Afghanistan, only these respected clerics can decide about it.”
Earlier, clerics from Kuwait, Indonesia and some other Islamic countries had described the war in Afghanistan as “un-Islamic”.
Afghan security officials revealed that after the Taliban group signed peace agreement with the United Nations in Qatar, the group established a faction called “Obaida Caravan” to carry out targeted killings across the country. Hence, the Taliban were behind the recent targeted killings under another name. Officials said that if the Taliban were not behind the attacks, they had to condemn them.
The Taliban’s practices show that the Taliban are not genuine at the peace table and they may support their violent faction, operating under the “Obaida Caravan” or other of such ilk in the future even after signing peace agreement with the Afghan government. The Taliban do not claim responsibility for the recent wave of attacks to avoid religious condemnation as well as regional and international pressure.
The engagement of religious scholars in political issues and extending the room for peaceful coexistence and spirit of brotherhood is highly crucial. All clerics have to reaffirm their support to peace and highlight religious tenets to the masses from moderate point of view. In short, Ulema councils and religious scholars carry heavy weight in spreading tolerance, reforming cultural deviation, and mitigating violence.
It is self-explanatory that spilling the blood of Afghan people, mainly civilians, and fighting against an Islamic country has no religious basis. Declaring war against the Islamic republic and killing non-combatants are against religious tenets, according to all Islamic clerics.
Earlier, the Taliban said they would fight against “occupation”, but their narrative has come under question after signing agreement and declaring peace with the United States.
If the Taliban hold talks with good intention, they have to decrease their violence, stop shedding the blood of civilians, and listen to the demands of the public.
Meanwhile, if the Taliban believe they are on the right side ideologically, they have to debate their views with Afghan religious clerics on national media instead of seeking to impose their mindset with the barrel of gun. The Taliban’s trying to eliminate their opponents physically, indicates their weakness. They show zero tolerance in hearing a voice contrary to their ideology and mindset. The strategy of violence and repression is irrational in modern world. Even the Taliban are said to have no clear vision about Islamic structure as they are not able to define. 
If the Taliban listen to public demands and have genuine intention in the talks, they have to declare ceasefire instead of seeking to impose their radical mindset and parochial worldview at gunpoint or seeking concessions and pressuring the government through targeting civil society and media activists. If ceasefire is not declared, talks are likely to be derailed and Afghans would lose their hope and trust in the peace process.
The Taliban had better stop playing a foul game at the peace table and negotiate outspokenly what they believe in. Continuation of insurgency is contrary to peace talks.
The international community and regional and global stakeholders have to press the Taliban strictly to be genuine in the talks and no more play with the fate of people.
The Taliban’s ideology is challenged seriously by religious institutions and their war has no religious justification. They have to stop capitalizing on the feelings of their militants and declare ceasefire.