A delegation of prominent British Imams and Muslim scholars led by the Human Aid & Advocacy charity has concluded an eight day humanitarian visit to Afghanistan.
The delegation, which included Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and Shaykh Suliman Gani, was organised in coordination with a fact-finding mission led by Prosper Afghanistan, a community initiative dedicated to furthering understanding of Afghanistan.
Prosper Afghanistan facilitated a series of meetings between the scholars and Afghan officials.
Human Aid & Advocacy said the Muslim leaders travelled to Afghanistan in order to better understand the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people and witness some of the current aid projects established by the charity in the country.
These included an orphanage, a widow’s skills training centre, a vocational skills centre, and an aid delivery to Kapisa province. Human Aid & Advocacy has since committed to support a girls’ school in Paghman, currently educating over 100 girls.
The charity also called for the end of sanctions on Afghanistan that “are collectively punishing the Afghan people.”
Prosper Afghanistan gave more details about the visit, saying: “Delegates comprised a range of Muslim scholars representing a variety of backgrounds. The delegation follows visits to Afghanistan by UK Charge D’Affaires Robert Dixon, his predecessor Hugo Shorter and more recently MP Tobias Ellwood.
“As religious leaders and citizens of Britain, Muslim scholars hold a unique position that grants them a vantage point and an ability to build bridges between two worlds that they know well.
“Prosper Afghanistan organised a series of meetings with ministers and held constructive dialogue on a range of issues. The delegates learnt about the progress made with regards to economy, security and drug control. Delegates shared questions raised by Muslims of the West regarding what they read about the government of Afghanistan in Western press.
“The delegation intends to publish a report on its visit and seek further constructive engagements with stakeholders in Afghanistan. On future visits, delegates intend to seek meetings with the UN and EU offices in Kabul.
“Prosper Afghanistan supports the position of the UK government that ‘to promote peace and stability, to deliver essential humanitarian support to the Afghan people…there is no alternative to engaging pragmatically with the current administration of Afghanistan…’
“Prosper Afghanistan will be working with communities across the UK to enhance the public understanding on Afghanistan and promote a safe, independent and prosperous Afghanistan. We support the UK’s policy of constructive engagement and we call for the end to economic sanctions.”
The visit by the British imams follows a trip to Afghanistan by prominent Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood in mid July during which he praised the Islamic Emirate for transforming the nation and urged British government to re-establish formal relations.
Writing in The Telegraph, he said: “Two years after the Taliban forced the West to scuttle from Kabul, I’ve just returned from an Afghanistan which is totally transformed. Hold your breath. Security has vastly improved, people are free to travel and the widespread corruption that impacted at every level of former President Ashraf Ghani’s government has all the disappeared. And the dreaded black market opium trade that blighted the nation’s economy has seemingly gone.
“This war-torn nation has not experienced relative peace like this since the 1970s. And it shows. The congested streets are bustling with life as everyone goes about their business – free from the infinite checkpoints and perpetual fear of violence. The Taliban authorities are no more visible than our own police are in London.”
Ellwood did criticise the IEA’s restrictions on female work and education, but said it could be used as a tool to negotiate with the Afghan authorities.