Smiles for Afghan girls

Taliban’s decision to allow girls to return to classes, as high schools open next week, is most welcome

March 21, 2022


Amidst uncertainty in the region, there is some encouraging news from Afghanistan. The Taliban’s decision to allow girls to return to classes, as high schools open next week, is most welcome. The government has kept its word and has surely won the hearts of the egalitarian constituency at home and abroad, by providing equal opportunities to both the genders in education. UN Secretary General António Guterres has rightly appreciated the regime in Kabul, which comes as a befitting tribute to the Taliban who were under the scanner of suspicion for their erstwhile past. The Education Ministry’s decision also coincides with the beginning of the Persian calendar year, known as Nauroz, and has brought in added smiles to the war-devastated nation.

The Taliban 2.0 governance had come a long way. By shunning extremism in body politick, the militia has written a new chapter of co-existence. The inclusion of non-Pashtuns in the cabinet and its policy to discourage sectarianism are landmark achievements. Thus, the harmony that is ensuing in the divisive society will come as a strength to the hardline militia, and will go a long way in furthering the mosaic of a pluralistic society. Enabling women workforce to participate in national life, allowing girl students opportunities of higher education and lifting an era of siege on social activities are great beginnings.

This gesture from the Taliban is in need of reciprocation. The new government is yet to be recognised, and the benchmarks set for the same need reconsideration. Taliban to a great extent have met calls for an inclusive government, and nothing is perfect in any political dispensation. Thus, foreign dictation and preconditions on any sovereign entity are an anti-thesis of Westphalian statehood, and the same cannot be forced on Taliban and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan needs nation-building, and that can only come by investing in civil society. The 40 million people have passed through a worst time, and four decades of war-mongering, invasion and occupation have left them in tatters. The world community should closely work with the Taliban to maximise their efforts in evolving a dynamic educational edifice and encouraging youth to undertake vocational and technical orientation. This is how peace can be furthered at the grassroots level.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21th, 2022.

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