Peace remains the top priority for Afghans, said religious scholars and other community leaders gathered at a UN-backed event in the southern province of Kandahar.
The symposium, organized by UNAMA’s Kandahar regional office, drew scholars, elders, provincial authorities and other community leaders to discuss ways to build social cohesion in the interest of ending the country’s longstanding conflict.
“Rule of law, human dignity, quality of life for all Afghans and strong relations with the world are all important issues to discuss in any peace efforts,” said Haji Agha Lalai Dastagiri, Kandahar’s deputy governor, as he framed the discussion in opening remarks.
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“We must respect human life and values.”
Other participants expressed similar views as they exchanged ideas about the main factors contributing to the conflict in Afghanistan’s southern region and across the country, and as they strategized on the best way forward in advancing peace efforts.
“The conflict continues to cause the suffering of the Afghan people and it must come to an end,” said Malim Sardar Mohammad, an elder from Kandahar.
Afghanistan’s religious scholars, known as Ulema, play an essential role in setting moral and ethical standards for their communities. They often work as peace brokers and are respected at all levels of society, exerting influence on individual and community decisions.