Akbar Agha Pushes Peace Building Efforts Among Clerics, Tribal Elders

Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, the former leader of the Taliban’s Jaish-al-Muslimeen (Army of Muslims) and the current chairman of the Shurae-Aali Rah-e-Nejat (High Council of Salvation), on Saturday announced that the council has initiated efforts around the country geared toward strengthening the prospects of national unity and bringing an end to the war in Afghanistan.

Akbar Agha, who is currently on a trip to northern Balkh province, says that his council is working on a number of important strategies for bolstering reconciliation and grassroots efforts to promote peace. He said that the council is consulting with local religious scholars, tribal elders and other public figures in every province.

“We intend to inaugurate a branch office in every province in the near future,” Akbar Agha said on Saturday. “We hope to work in every district in order to establish a contact with the people and the offices will work with the people for peace.”

The former Taliban leader’s remarks come at a time when security conditions in northern regions of Afghanistan have rapidly deteriorated thanks to a Taliban offensive that Afghan forces have struggled to repel. Simultaneously, peace talks between Taliban leaders and the Afghan government, which got off to a good start in early July, have been postponed in the wake of the death of the Taliban’s founder and supreme leader, Mullah Omar.

Yet there seems promise in Akbar Agha and the Shuree-Aali Rah-e-Nejat approach to peace building. A number of prominent clerics around the country have already issued calls to other religious scholars to explain the importance of peace and call on the people to cooperate in this respect.

“Today, the people of Afghanistan are in dire need of peace,” a cleric named Maulavi Najibullah Haidari said on Saturday. “Every Afghan citizen is obliged to cooperate in maintaining permanent peace and security in the country.”

Members of the High Council of Salvation have said that honest cooperation between the government, the public and civil society institutions is the groundwork needed for the establishment of longstanding peace and stability.

“From this tribune I want to divert the attention of our friends to think about the bitter events and chaotic era and the failures that we have faced over the past 35 years – let’s not repeat them time and again,” High Council of Salvation member Maulavi Abdul Baqi said.

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