Taliban to US on women's rights: 'Education without hijab? Don't change our culture'
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told an American news outlet on Friday that the United States should not impose upon Afghanistan its views on women's rights, insisting that it would be regarded as interfering with their “culture”. The idea that women can have “education without [a] hijab” is a ‘Western’ concept that is not compatible with the cultural values in Afghanistan, Shaheen said, adding that the Taliban stand opposed to it.
The Taliban spokesperson, however, maintained that “there will be no issue about women's rights” in Afghanistan as long as they (the women) receive education and work jobs wearing a hijab. In an interview with cable media network Fox News, Shaheen said, “There will be no issue about women's rights, no problem about their education or work; but we should not be changing each other's culture.”
“That you women should have education without hijab, that is a change of culture,” Shaheen was heard saying in the interview. “Within our culture, women can receive education and work with [a] hijab. This is just one example. There may be more.”
The statement by the Taliban spokesperson came amid reports that the group is close to forming a new interim government in Afghanistan, days after the last of the US troops left on a flight from the Kabul airport. With this withdrawal, the United States ended its longest war, an extended two-decade-long military campaign in the war-torn nation.
Referring to US military withdrawal from Afghanistan as the end of one ‘chapter’ in the country's history, the Taliban spokesperson said, “For us, it was [an] occupation, we ended that. We were staging resistance, but now it is closed and it is in the past. We have to focus on the future – that is better for them (the US) and for us.”
“We had this destructive relation, a hostile relation, and now we will turn this into a constructive relation,” said Taliban leader Suhail Shaheen, adding that the group is looking to work the Western nations in a ‘positive way’.
Notably, Taliban leaders and their spokespersons have in recent days offered widely divergent views on a number of issues, which also includes one regarding the Kashmir valley in India.
Most countries around the world, however, seem to be in no hurry to recognise a Taliban government anytime soon even if it is announced.
Western powers say formal recognition of the Taliban government and a resulting flow of economic aid will depend on action to safeguard human rights, the rule of law, and the media. The White House, additionally, said that the Biden administration has no current plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments, and foreign currency reserves, which it froze after the Taliban takeover.