Afghan girls school ban would be un-Islamic, says PM Imran

Lists inclusive leadership, rights respect as conditions for recognising Taliban govt

By: News Desk      Published: 08:52 AM, 22 Sep, 2021
Afghan girls education
Imran Khan talks to BBC.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said preventing women and girls from accessing education in neighbouring Afghanistan would be un-Islamic.

In an interview with the BBC, Imran Khan laid out the conditions that would need to be met for Pakistan to formally recognise the new Taliban government. He called for the leadership to be inclusive and to respect human rights.

Imran Khan also said Afghanistan should not be used to house terrorists who could threaten Pakistan's security.

Last week, the Taliban excluded girls from secondary schools with only boys and male teachers allowed back. But Pakistan's leader said he believed girls would soon be able to attend.

"The statements they have made since they came to power have been very encouraging," he told BBC's John Simpson. "I think they will allow women to go to schools," he said. "The idea that women should not be educated is just not Islamic. It has nothing to do with religion."

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, fears have grown over a return to the regime of the 1990s when the hardline Islamists severely restricted women's rights.

Its leadership maintains that the rights of women will be respected "within the framework of Islamic law".

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The decision to exclude girls from returning to school last week prompted an international outcry, with a Taliban spokesman later saying they would return to the classroom "as soon as possible".

But it is not yet clear when girls will be able to return or what form of education will be provided if they do.

When pressed on whether the Taliban would realistically meet his criteria for formal recognition, Imran Khan repeatedly called on the international community to give the group more time.

"It's just too early to say anything," he said, adding that he expected Afghan women to eventually "assert their rights".

Imran Khan said that Pakistan would make a decision on whether to formally recognise the Taliban government alongside other neighbouring states.

"All neighbours will get together and see how they progress," he said. "Whether to recognise them or not will be a collective decision."

Imran Khan also called on the hardline group to form an inclusive government, warning that a failure to do so could see the country descend into civil war. "If they do not include all the factions, sooner or later they will have a civil war," he said. "That would mean an unstable, chaotic, Afghanistan and an ideal place for terrorists. That is a worry".

On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman announced the remaining members of Afghanistan's all-male government.

The additions included a doctor as health minister, but analysts say the government is predominantly made up of loyalists with little minority representation.