And When Taliban Banned Higher Education for Women

Date:

Western news agencies, NGOs and human rights organisations could see the pain of a few thousand women who are denied entry into Kabul university but they don’t want to see the tragic and dire situation of the hapless and wretched men, women, and children across Afghanistan.

Omer As’ad Shaik | Clarion India

THE sad news of the Taliban banning higher education for women in Kabul continues to dominate news headlines across the globe and, perhaps, no newspaper, news channel, or other social media outlets are leaving it uncovered. Here in the US, everyone is shedding tonnes of tears on this “injustice.” Western news agencies are in overdrive as if they were the only well-wishers of Afghan women in the world. Their selective amnesia is helping them in forgetting the brutal US-led invasion, 20 years of occupation, bombings, murders, and destruction of infrastructure that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths of men, women, and children.

Western news agencies, NGOs and human rights organisations could see the pain of a few thousand women who are denied entry into Kabul university but they don’t want to see the tragic and dire situation of the hapless and wretched men, women, and children across Afghanistan. They don’t want to cover the news of the humanitarian crisis across Afghanistan due to US and Europe illegally withholding $9 billion of its foreign funds in their banks. Without access to these funds, alongside economic sanctions, and a steep decline in humanitarian aid has driven Afghanistan into a complete economic mess. Over 6 million Afghans are facing an immediate risk of starvation. According to the Centre for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), the US sanctions on Afghanistan and freezing of its central bank assets would kill more people than those who died in the 20 years of US war and occupation.

Freezing of assets has plunged Afghanistan into a liquidity crisis, the people are unable to access the cash needed for essential transactions. This has driven the country into acute and widespread hunger. As per the International Committee of the Red Cross, over 70 per cent of homes have been deprived of basic food and essential non-food needs. In their June reports, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have claimed that Afghans are selling their daughters, and their kidneys in an effort to survive the extreme hunger and crippling debts.

The decision of the Taliban is no doubt a crime, but shouldn’t it be seen in the context of the prevailing situation across Afghanistan? Is it a crime bigger than that of the US and Europe that has destroyed the complete infrastructure of the country during the brutal occupation? The way the US has left the country without putting in place a viable and effective security arrangement had all the elements to push Afghanistan into a bloody civil war. One may like the Taliban or not, but one has to accept and applaud the swift way they successfully controlled the country and didn’t allow it to spiral into a bloody civil war. It is no less than a miracle that under the Taliban the law and order situation across Afghanistan is more stable than at any time under the US occupation. 

What is the need of the hour in Afghanistan today? Is it to unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign financial assets in the United States and return it to Afghanistan Central Bank as early as possible so that they may have the needed liquidity to buy food and medicines acutely needed to save thousands of lives? Or the priority is to address and pressurise the Taliban to allow women into university? The latter is important but can wait till the life-saving measures are properly put in place. 

Human rights organisations, the UN, the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the international community have proved to be criminally negligent in the Afghanistan crisis. The US and its allies who occupied a sovereign nation for two decades should be required to pay infrastructural damages and for the loss of life caused due to their military adventurism.

It is great to see the world coming to the aid of Ukraine but to ignore the plight of Afghanistan is nothing short of a crime against humanity.  

Will the world have the conscience to feel the pain of millions of innocent Afghani women and children or will it selectively ignore their cries and declare the death of its morality? Millions of Afghans are awaiting impatiently for the response of the world. It is a matter of life and death; they need to live first … today if they were to go to the university tomorrow!

Let us help them survive the pangs of hunger, and the pain of their sickness today and continue our help and partnership till they have access to the education of their choice. This would bring us closer to the pain of the Afghans who have been subjected to two brutal invasions in the last 50 years.

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The author is an engineer by profession and a commentator with interests in faith, history and politics. He can be contacted at omersasad@gmail.com. The views expressed here are authors’ personal.

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