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Afghan Taliban MP calls for girls’ schools to reopen

ISLAMABAD — A senior Taliban-led Afghan government official on Tuesday called on Afghanistan’s new leadership to reopen schools for girls beyond sixth grade, saying there was no valid reason in Islam for the ban. .

The call from Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban’s deputy foreign minister, came during a gathering of senior Taliban in Kabul. It was a rare moderate voice amid the harsh measures imposed by the Taliban since they invaded the country and took 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, showing only their eyes.

The Taliban said they were working on a plan to open secondary schools for girls, but did not give a timetable.

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

“It is very important that education be provided to all, without any discrimination,” Stanikzai said. “Women must be educated, there is no Islamic prohibition for the education of girls.”

“Let’s not give others the opportunity to drive a wedge between the government and the people,” he added. “If there are technical problems, it must be solved and schools for girls must be opened.”

Still, it was unclear if and to what extent Stanikzai could influence hardliners, who appear to hold the reins of the Taliban administration.

Stanikzai once led the Taliban team during the talks that led to the 2020 Qatar deal between the Taliban and the United States, which included the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

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

A year after the Taliban took control of the country as the Western-backed government and military crumbled, the UN says it is increasingly concerned that restrictions on the education of girls, as well as other measures restricting fundamental freedoms, would aggravate the economic crisis in Afghanistan and lead to more insecurity, poverty and isolation.

ABC News

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