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    Afghan Taliban deputy calls for reopening girls’ schools


    Sep 27, 2022

    ISLAMABAD: A senior member of Afghanistan’s Taliban-run government on Tuesday called on the South Asian country’s new rulers to reopen schools for girls beyond the sixth grade, saying there was no valid reason in Islam for the ban.

    The appeal from Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban deputy foreign minister, came during a top Taliban gathering in the capital Kabul. It was a rare moderate voice amid the harsh measures imposed by the Taliban since they overran the country and seized power in August 2021.

    The measures include banning girls from middle school and high school despite initial promises to the contrary. Women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, with only their eyes showing.

    The Taliban have said they are working on a plan to open secondary schools for girls, but have yet to give a timeframe.

    The United Nations has called the ban “shameful” and the international community has been wary of officially recognizing the Taliban, fearing a return to the same harsh rule the Taliban imposed when they were last in power in the late 1990s.

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    “It is very important that education must be provided to all, without any discrimination,” Stanikzai said. “Women must get education. There is no Islamic prohibition for girls’ education.”

    “Let’s not provide opportunities for others to create a gap between the government and people,” he added. “If there are technical issues, that needs to be resolved, and schools for girls must be opened.”

    Still, it was unclear if and how much Stanikzai could sway hardliners, who appear to hold the reins in the Taliban administration.

    Stanikzai was once head of the Taliban team in talks that led to the 2020 agreement in Qatar between the Taliban and the United States that included the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

    His remarks follow the Taliban appointment of a new education minister, days after the UN called on them to reopen schools for girls. The global organization estimates that more than 1 million girls have been barred from attending most of middle school and high school over the past year.

    A year after the Taliban took over the country as the Western-backed government and military crumbled, the UN says it is increasingly concerned that restrictions on girls’ education, as well as other measures curtailing basic freedoms, would deepen Afghanistan’s economic crisis and lead to greater insecurity, poverty and isolation.


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