Islamabad urges Kabul to review decision to ban female education

ISLAMABAD: In a strong reaction while expressing disappointment, Pakistan has urged Afghan authorities in Kabul to review their decision to suspend higher education for Afghan female students.

Pakistan is disappointed to learn of the suspension of university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s position on this issue has been clear and consistent.

“We firmly believe that every man and woman has an inherent right to education according to Islamic injunctions,” the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. He strongly urged the Afghan authorities to review this decision.

Speaking from Washington, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed disappointment over the Taliban’s ban on women attending university, but said the best approach remains engagement with Afghanistan’s rulers.

“I am disappointed by the decision that was made today. I still think the easiest path to our goal, despite having many setbacks when it comes to women’s education and other things, is through Kabul and the interim government.”

On Tuesday, the Afghan interim government suspended university education for all female students in Afghanistan, the latest move to restrict the rights and freedom of Afghan women. Afghan schoolgirls have already faced the closure of their schools since the Taliban took over Kabul, which has also been condemned by many.

A spokesman for the Afghan Higher Education Ministry confirmed that the suspension of the decision was taken at a cabinet meeting and said the order would take effect immediately. Girls were barred from returning to secondary schools in March after the Taliban ordered all-girls schools to close just hours after they were due to reopen following months of closures imposed after the militant takeover. Taliban in August 2021.

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Human Rights Watch has also criticized the ban: “The Taliban make it clear every day that they do not respect the fundamental rights of Afghans, especially women.”

The United States also condemned “the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The Taliban’s recent decision, he said, “will have significant consequences for the Taliban and will further alienate the Taliban from the international community and deny them the legitimacy they desire.”

Earlier, when State Minister Hina Rabbani Khar made her first visit to Kabul, she did not mince words in her meetings with the Taliban and spoke out loudly in favor of girls’ education.

A prominent Canadian journalist, Kathy Gannon, who has spent her entire life covering Afghanistan, expressed her disappointment on Wednesday, tweeting: “@@williammaley1 When I asked the UN special envoy why the UN was not protesting the Taliban sending women home from work in early 1996 BEFORE the Taliban took power, he said he was trying to negotiate peace, not women’s rights.” That’s cultural,” she told me.

William Maley is a professor and author of The Wars in Afghanistan, who quotes Richard Holbrooke in 2010 as saying that when he approached President Biden on the issue of Afghan women, Biden exploded: “I’m not going to send my son back there to risk her life in the name of women’s rights.”

Kathy herself says that “also in early 1996, before the Taliban took over Kabul, Mullah Burjan, a Taliban commander on Maidan Shahr, after I asked him over and over again why women were being sent home from work and girls from a school in their areas, said: “Why do you always ask me this? The UN never mentions women.”

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The “culture” excuse to bail out and encourage the Taliban was also used by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. He caused outrage when he told the OIC summit in Islamabad: “If we are not sensitive to the cultural norms of these people, even with stipends, people in Afghanistan will not send their girls to school.”

“When we talk about human rights and women’s rights, we have to be sensitive about it. However, my main concern is that if ineffective measures are taken immediately, Afghanistan will descend into chaos.”

Asim Yasin adds: Pakistan People’s Party Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan is disappointed to learn of the suspension of university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan and urged Afghan authorities to review this decision.

In a series of tweets from his Twitter account, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Pakistan’s position on this issue has been clear and consistent. He said: “We firmly believe that every man and woman has the inherent right to education in accordance with the injunctions of Islam. We strongly urge the Afghan authorities to review this decision,” he tweets.