On a mission to promote the Taliban, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was unable to answer a question on the deteriorating status of women in Afghanistan.
At a press conference organized by the Foreign Press Association, The America Times (Poonam Sharma) asked Qureshi about supporting the women of Afghanistan who have been peacefully protesting for their rights. Qureshi was unable to answer the question, and instead responded, “I haven’t been to Kabul since the takeover, but I have seen on television, I have seen shots uh, footage of women demonstrating in Kabul. Now this was, I think in the 90s, unthinkable, it was unthinkable, but today it is happening. That shows that, that shows that there is a different approach. That shows that in the last 20 years, you know, things have changed. Women are more demanding, and they are more assertive, and they can speak for themselves, which is good.”
The question was in the context of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks to the BBC’s John Simpson in which he said, “Their women are very strong. I feel give them time and they will assert their rights.” When pressed by Simpson on how much time, Khan said, “one, two, or three years.”
Despite initial assurances that women’s rights would be respected under Sharia law, they have begun to disappear under Taliban rule. Women have been banned from playing sports and turned away from workplaces. Taliban spokesman Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai stated that there would not be a place for women in higher government posts. When a caretaker government was announced on September 7, there was not a single woman in the cabinet.
The Taliban caretaker government abolished the Women’s Affairs Ministry which played a critical role in improving women’s rights in Afghanistan, and replaced it with the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice which has repressed the rights of women in the past.
Many female government employees have fled Afghanistan, and their colleagues and family members in Afghanistan have been targeted by the Taliban according to reports documented by Amnesty International.
Despite threats to their safety, the brave Afghan women have been holding protests to demand their rights to education, work, and a role in government. Some of these protests have been violently dispersed by the Taliban. Amnesty International has verified videos corroborating media reports of the Taliban using tear gas, electric tasers and hitting women on the head with the magazines of guns in Kabul.