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Islamabad urges Kabul to revisit ban on female education

FO says every man and woman has inherent right to education

ISLAMABAD   -   Pakistan yesterday urged Afghan au­thorities to revisit the decision to suspend university and higher ed­ucation for female students in Af­ghanistan. “Pakistan is disappointed to learn about the suspension of uni­versity and higher education for fe­male students in Afghanistan,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Mum­taz Zahra Baloch. Earlier, Afghan­istan’s higher education ministry said that female students would not be allowed access to the country’s universities until further notice.

A letter, confirmed by a spokesper­son for the higher education min­istry, instructed Afghan public and private universities to suspend ac­cess to female students immedi­ately, in accordance with a Cabinet decision. “You all are informed to im­mediately implement the mentioned order of suspending the education of females until further notice,” said a letter issued to all government and private universities, signed by Min­ister for Higher Education, Neda Mo­hammad Nadeem.

The announcement came as the United Nations Security Council met in New York on Afghanistan. The United States and British UN envoys both condemned the move during the council meeting.

“The Taliban cannot expect to be a legitimate member of the interna­tional community until they respect the rights of all Afghans, especial­ly the human rights and fundamen­tal freedom of women and girls,” US Deputy UN Ambassador Robert Wood said.

While on the other hand, the Tal­iban-led government has defended its decision, saying such restrictions have been done to preserve “nation­al interest” and women’s “honour”.

Several Taliban officials said the ban on secondary education is only temporary due to a lack of funds to the time needed to remodel the syl­labus along Islamic lines.

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Paki­stan’s position on this issue had been clear and consistent. “We strongly 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 revisit this decision,” she added.

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