Banning women from NGOs exposes divisions in Taliban ranks

January 03, 2023 22:48 IS

Kabul [Afghanistan]Jan 3 (ANI): Banning women’s education and preventing them from working for NGOs in Afghanistan has not only sparked international condemnation, but has also caused internal divisions within the ranks of the Taliban with public protests against the dictates, France reported 24.
The France 24 report quotes the former US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, from Washington.
In a telephone interview, the former envoy said there are signs of division over the Taliban’s hardline policies. And this has reached a tipping point in a country that has a history of settling differences at gunpoint and can have consequences for the international community and its own people.
Reports of divisions within the Taliban’s ranks have grown since the edict banning women from working in NGOs was issued, reported France 24, a Paris-based news television station.
“Within the Taliban, this is a minority opinion. The majority, even in the leadership, opposes this decision,” Khalilzad said.
According to the France 24 report, Khalilzad, who was born and raised in Afghanistan, resigned from his post as special envoy in 2021. But he is still in contact with some Taliban officials, although he declined to name them. “I’ve talked to them in the past and I’m talking to them now and they’re very much against this decision,” he said.
The whole issue is entirely a split between moderate Taliban officials and the arch-conservative inner circle around the reclusive Taliban emir, Hibatullah Akhunzada, based in the city of Kandahar.
Nicknamed “the Kandaharis” or sometimes “the shura” (council), the old rural guard are believed to be responsible for the Taliban’s most controversial policies, including restrictions on female education and the reintroduction of corporal punishment, including public whipping.
According to the report, the first sign of these differences in the ranks of the Taliban was visible in March 2022 when decisions were made to ban female students’ education.
In the months leading up to the reopening of Afghan schools on March 23 after the winter break, Taliban officials promised that the ban on girls attending secondary schools would be lifted.
But just hours before the scheduled reopening, as Afghan girls waited at the school gates, the Taliban abruptly changed course. When the last-minute ban order reached schools, news crews, invited by the Education Ministry, recorded devastating testimonies of girls in their school uniforms sobbing in despair, according to the report.
While answering questions from the press, Taliban officials were caught giving explanations related to Islamic principles, he said.
The France 24 report further mentions that Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai later called for the reopening of girls’ schools in a televised address at a meeting of senior Taliban officials and leaders in Kabul.
Furthermore, Jacinto in his report said that Stanikzai has so far gotten away with his public expression of disagreement. Other Taliban ministers have not been so lucky.
Even in August 2021, when the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, then-acting higher education minister Abdul Baqi Haqqani had announced that universities across the country would have separate classrooms for women. This decision never mentioned the prohibition of university education for women. In addition, it allows them to continue classes for women, often with a curtain separating them from the male students, according to Jacinto’s report.
But, in October 2022, Haqqani was fired and replaced by the arch-conservative Nida Mohammad Nadim, known for his opposition to female education, calling it anti-Islamic. And just two months after Nadim’s appointment, women were barred from attending university education.
Although it should also be noted that the Taliban’s chief education minister, Noorullah Munir, was replaced last year by the head of the Kandahar provincial council, Habibullah Agha, only because Munir had announced to journalists in September 2021 that he would be allowed to women to study in schools according to Sharia law. (AND ME)

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