State Dept wants ‘action’ not ‘rhetoric’ on Afghan schools

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The United States Department of State again criticized what it called the ban on schools for girls over sixth grade in Afghanistan.

Following an interview with Sirajuddin Haqqani, acting minister of Interior, on CNN which focused on reopening girls’ schools above the sixth grade and not recognizing the United States as an enemy, the US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price said that Kabul has not fulfilled what it promised.

“We have heard these types of comments before, what we care much more about rather than rhetoric is action and we await Taliban acting on these positive signals and reopening schools at all levels across the country which itself would be a welcome development,” Price said.

In the meantime, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said it considers the right to education for girls and women’s rights in the country to be important and it urges the Islamic Emirate to abide by its commitments, especially regarding the right to education of girls and women’s rights.

“We conveyed to the new regime in Afghanistan that they live up to the international commitments, now whether that is their international commitments to the right to girls’ education and allowing the women’s rights in Afghanistan within that context or it is their international commitments to not allow their soil to be used for terrorist activity,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

However, Kabul has said that it is committed to its obligations to the international community.

“It is baseless to say that they will not do what the minister has said, and it is also baseless to say that the Islamic Emirate has not done what it promised in the past,” said Abdul Nafi Takur, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.

“If the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan really wants to get out of international isolation and have diplomatic relations with foreign countries, it needs to meet its national and international commitments to reopen girls’ schools above the sixth grade and form an inclusive government which includes all,” said Sayed Javad Hosseini, political analyst.

However, the Islamic Emirate said that it has set up a commission to allow female students above sixth grade to go to school, but it is not clear when this commission will start working.

The Ministry of Education said the expected assembly of the Islamic scholars about the fate of the girls’ schools above grade six will be held Kabul.

However, the ministry didn’t provide details about the exact date of the assembly.

“There have been several meetings over the past month and a half. Earlier, Anas Haqqani, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate said they will have a gathering on the fate of girls’ schools. As long as I know, the religious clerics of the country will have a gathering in this regard and will discuss this issue and they will find a proper solution in this regard,” said Aziz Ahmad Riyan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education.

The ministry also expressed concerns over the shortage of textbooks in the schools.

“Around 2,500 schools lack facilities. They need to be provided with facilities,” Riyan said.

This comes as students and teachers said the closing of schools is not in the interest of the country.

“It has been over eight months that we have been deprived of education. We call on the Islamic Emirate to reopen the doors of the schools and to not politicize education,” said Khalida Habibi, a teacher.

“There is no need to delay this. The officials of the current government must reopen the doors of the school without any delay,” said Sayed Jawad Sijadi, a university instructor.

Earlier, a senior member of the Islamic Emirate told a gathering in the southeastern province of Khost that a large gathering would be held to discuss the fate of the girls’ school beyond grade six. —Tolonews

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