Afghan clerics seek return to strict Islamic law
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's largest gathering of clerics, who met to discuss reconciliation with the Taliban, has called for the revival of strict Islamic law as the country seeks ways to win militants away from a growing insurgency.
About 350 of the Islamic clerics, or ulema, met for three days this week, the meeting ending with a declaration calling on President Hamid Karzai to enact sharia, or Islamic law, including punishments such as stonings, lashing, amputation and execution.
"The lack of implementation of sharia hodud (punishment) has cast a negative impact on the peace process," said a 10-point resolution issued after the meeting.
"We the ulema and preachers of Afghanistan ... earnestly ask the government not to spare any efforts in the implementation of sharia hodud."
The resolution, seen by Reuters, was sent to Karzai's government.
The ulema have a long-standing and deep influence in traditionally conservative Afghanistan and have often stepped in to back uprisings or been used to bolster past governments.
The head of a government council of religious leaders, separate to the gathering this week, has been asked to find ways to make peace with the Taliban after almost 10 years of war since the militants were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces.
The head of that government council, Mawlavi Qiyamuddin Kashaf, attended the meeting of clerics and scholars this week, which included representatives from both the majority Sunni Muslim sect and minority Shi'ites. Continued...