PESHAWAR: A prominent member of a delegation of Pakistani religious scholars who visited Kabul this week told Arab News on Saturday the Afghan Taliban were likely to reopen high schools for female students soon.
Allowing girls and women into schools and colleges has been one of the key demands the international community has made of the Taliban since they took control of Afghanistan in August last year.
In mid-March, after months of uncertainty, the Taliban said they would let girls around the country to return to class, but eventually backtracked on the announcement, saying high schools would remain closed for female students until the government prepared a plan in accordance with Islamic law to allow them back.
The Pakistani delegation of religious scholars was in Kabul to push forward the ongoing peace process between Islamabad and the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group. The TTP, which has carried out some of the bloodiest attacks inside Pakistan since 2007, is not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, but the latter have been engaged in mediation between the group and the Pakistani government.
Hafiz Salman Ul Haq Haqqani, deputy administrator of Dar al-Ulum Haqqania, an Islamic seminary in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, who was part of the delegation, said that besides the TTP talks, the top agenda of the trip was women’s education in Afghanistan, and they had held “very productive meetings” with Afghanistan’s acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and acting Education Minister Noorullah Munir, as well as other education ministry officials.
“Our focus in those meetings was allowing girls to attend schools and we got positive response,” Haqqani told Arab News.
The Haqqania school is known as one of the oldest seminaries, and many Taliban leaders have educational links to it.
“During our meetings, scholars from the Pakistani side presented before the Afghan side convincing arguments in support of girls’ education. We told them an educated female in Pakistan has translated the Holy Qur’an in other languages such as Pashto. The Afghan side listened to us patiently and they hinted to open all girls’ schools and colleges very soon,” Haqqani said.
Maulvi Ahmad Taqi, a senior official at Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education, told Arab News that Pakistani religious scholars held a series of meetings with Afghan education officials.
“I hope the meetings were positive and will lead to the opening of all girls’ schools,” he said. “Universities for females are though opened but girls of all age groups will soon be going to schools and colleges.”