Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: A conference of religious scholars (Ulema) from Afghanistan and Pakistan will take place in Kabul "by the first or second week of March", a spokesman for the Pakistani foreign office said on Thursday.

During the foreign office’s weekly briefing in Islamabad, spokesman Moazzam Ali Khan said both countries had principally agreed to hold the Ulema conference in Kabul in early March.

Khan said that the objective of the summit is to move forward with the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

A delegation of Afghan ulema had traveled to Pakistan earlier this week to finalise plans for the Kabul conference meant to denounce suicide attacks and other forms of violence in the name of Islam.

However, the meeting was boycotted by a majority of Pakistani scholars after a dispute over whether to invite the Afghan Taliban in the Kabul conference.

Earlier this month, a joint statement issued after the trilateral summit at Chequers hosted by the British prime minister had also said that both Afghan and Pakistani presidents looked forward to the Ulema conference in early March.

During his briefing, Khan said that Pakistan has so far released 28 Afghan Taliban prisoners previously held under its detention.

The spokesman clarified that the foreign office had no connection to Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam Fazl (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s recent visit to Qatar, reportedly for a meeting with the Afghan Taliban.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman traveled to Doha of his own accord, said Khan.

Speaking about Kashmir, Khan said that there Pakistan had not made any policy changes with regard to the disputed territory.

Pakistan desires a solution to the Kashmir dispute in line with the wishes of aspirations of the Kashmiri people and the resolutions of the United Nations, he said. Pakistan calls on India to release all release of freedom leaders and urges it to put a stop to its oppressive measures in Kashmir, said Khan.

Khan also dismissed Indian concerns regarding Pakistan’s decision to transfer management of the deep-sea Gwadar port to China.

The spokesman also informed reporters that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be traveling to Pakistan on Feb 16 on a two-day visit.

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