Delegates Pessimistic on Afghan Talks as Major Questions Go Unresolved

Hanafi jurisprudence accepted as a guide for talks

Some Afghan negotiators in Doha are expressing pessimism as much of the early going of the intra-Afghan process is spent trying to sort out a system of jurisprudence for the talks, and inclusivity.

Which isn’t to say that no progress was made. Everyone seems to have accepted that the Hanafi school should be the guide for the jurisprudence, since it is followed by the majority of Afghan Sunnis. Both sides have a number of Hanafi scholars.

Sorting that out is just the start of things, as now there are efforts to work out inclusivity for Shi’ites, as well as for Afghanistan’s non-Muslim minorities. Right now the effort is to let them resolve issues according to their own religious laws, so long as they don’t contravene Islamic tenets.

That it roughly how other Muslim countries handle things, and it tends to work as well as people will let it work. If some group wants to use religion to persecute some minority faction, however, they can usually find some wiggle-words to do so.

Still, Afghanistan has a large Sunni majority , and what happens beyond that is likely to be worked out only in the future. Because language is so important in interpretation, the near-term push is to decide if the war in Afghanistan was a conflict or a jihad (religious conflict), a distinction with significant implications.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of