Pakistan has urged Afghan authorities to reconsider their decision to suspend university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan is disappointed to learn about the suspension of the university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan,” an official statement from the Foreign Office read, adding that Pakistan’s position on the issue has been “clear and consistent”.
The FO added that “every man and woman has the inherent right to education in accordance with the injunctions of Islam.”
Following a statement by the Taliban-run government that women would be barred from tertiary education, female university students in Afghanistan were turned away from campuses on Wednesday.
Foreign governments and the UN denounced the move to exclude women when it was made public on Tuesday evening in a letter to universities from the higher education ministry.
Shaista, a business studies student at a private institution in Kabul, stated, “We got to campus, the Taliban were at the entrance and informed us ‘you are not permitted to enter the university until further notice’… everyone was crying.
Female students were turned away at the gate, according to a professor at a different Kabul institution who declined to be named, because staff members had no choice but to follow the directive.
The decision was made by the cabinet of the Taliban administration, according to a late Tuesday release.
In recent months, a number of Taliban officials, including the spokesperson for the government and the deputy foreign minister, have advocated for the education of women. Major choices are made by the ultimate spiritual head of the Taliban, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar. The matter has been discussed by the leadership, according to diplomatic and Taliban officials who spoke to Reuters.
“This decision had been anticipated for weeks, prompting some Western officials to start talking about additional sanctions and further economic restrictions,” said Graeme Smith, senior consultant at International Crisis Group.
“But the flood of outrage from the West will strengthen the resolve of the Taliban leadership, which defines itself as a bulwark against the outside world.”
The leadership of the Taliban has stated that while they desire peaceful relations with the world community, outsiders should not meddle in Afghan affairs. Most girls can’t attend classes past the first grade. While claiming to be developing a plan for secondary education for girls, the Taliban government has not provided a timeline. The administration unexpectedly changed its mind after giving out signs that all high schools for girls will begin in March.