ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said preventing women from accessing education in neighboring Afghanistan would be un-Islamic.
In an interview with the BBC broadcast on Tuesday, Khan laid out the conditions that would need to be met for Pakistan to formally recognize the new Taliban government, which included an inclusive government and respect for human rights.
He 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 the BBC’s John Simpson. “I think they will allow women to go to schools … 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 hard-line group severely restricted women’s rights.
Its leadership maintains that the rights of women will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law.”
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, 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.”
Khan said Pakistan would make a decision on whether to formally recognize the Taliban government alongside other neighboring states.
“All neighbors will get together and see how they progress,” he said. “Whether to recognize them or not will be a collective decision.”
He also called on the Taliban 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.”