By Pizaro Gozali and Chandni Vasandani
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) - Taliban should not see Indonesia as an extension of the Afghan government or the U.S., Indonesian Ulema Council official said Monday.
The council is supposed to host a trilateral meeting involving Indonesian, Afghan and Pakistani representatives later this month in Jakarta to discuss options to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table and bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
On Saturday, the militant organization termed the peace process initiated in Indonesia as “deceptive” and called for religious scholars to boycott the event set for the end of March.
Muhyiddin Junaidi, the council’s head of international relations department, told Anadolu Agency the Afghan Taliban had not yet received “complete information” about the proposed conference.
“The Taliban might be seeing Indonesia as an extension of the Afghanistan government and foreign powers, especially the U.S.,” Junaidi said.
But, he said, Indonesia remains neutral and unbiased in the Afghan conflict.
“We are neither pro-government nor pro-Taliban,” he said, adding that Indonesia would not take lectures or be patronized by representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Taliban, however, do not seem to be in any mood to participate in the conference.
“Do not afford an opportunity to the invading infidels in Afghanistan to misuse your name and participation in this conference as means of attaining their malicious objective,” the armed group said in a statement.
The Indonesian Ulema Council was still evaluating whether the rejection from the Taliban was final or mere posturing in front of the media.
It wants to directly meet Taliban representatives, formally invite them and clearly explain the goals of the summit.
However, the council members said they were still awaiting a greenlight in the matter from the Pakistani government, who continue to “hold the trump card”.
Last week, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said all stakeholders were willing to accept in Indonesia’s role in brokering the Afghan peace process.
“Indonesia has a good track record in peace diplomacy and we are well-placed to contribute in peace building and the peace process,” Marsudi told journalists last week, referring to the resolution of long-running internal conflicts in Aceh and Ambon.
Up to 45 Islamic scholars from the three countries have been invited to gather in Jakarta for discussions ahead of the International Ulema Conference on Peace and Development in Afghanistan.