NEW DELHI: It has been more than months since the Afghan girls were barred from attending schools and colleges by the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. The Taliban Education ministry says that girls will have to wait until a new education policy is framed, but did not specify any timelines.
While the Taliban leaders are formulating the new education policy, their daughters have been enjoying studying in Qatar and Pakistan. In a shocking revelation, a report by the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN) exposes how the Taliban elites are sending their daughters to overseas schools despite the regime not allowing many female secondary students in classrooms in Afghanistan.
"Most of the top leaders and high-ranking officials have enrolled their children in overseas state schools and universities. The daughter of one current Taliban minister is currently studying medicine at a Qatari university," says the report.
Though the report did not mention any name, it is an open secret that the regime's Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai's family is based in Doha and children including daughters are pursuing their higher studies in Qatar universities.
"In Qatar, only one family out of 26 families of Taliban leaders sends their son to a madrasa; the rest send both their boys and girls to modern Qatari and Pakistani schools. Taliban members and their families who live here (in Qatar) have strong demands for modern education and no one opposes it for either boys or girls -- of any age," one Taliban official told AAN.
Two members of the Taliban's Qatar office, who have now relocated to Kabul in different ministries, said they were in a dilemma as to whether to bring their families to Afghanistan or wait because of the "interruption it would pose to the boys' and girls' schooling". Though very scanty details about the families of the Taliban are available according to the report all 35 Taliban members and a few of the commanders have been enjoying the hospitality including the education of their children are being facilitated by the host -- the Qatar government.
The Interior Minister of the Taliban regime and chief of the Haqqani Network, Sirajuddin Haqqani's family is in Doha.
One Qatar-based Taliban official, who was a member of the Taliban's negotiating team, said his two daughters studied in a Qatari state school, with one finishing her education in 2022.
The Defence Minister, Mullah Yakub, the eldest son of the founder of the Taliban Mullah Omar, in his early days in the 2010s studied in a madrasa in Karachi but later opted for the English and management courses in private educational facilities. Some mid-ranking officials opted to send their children to schools, which combine "Western" learning with religious teaching, known as the Iqra system, in neighbouring Pakistan where many Taliban leaders spent the last two decades exiled.
The report says that though the first generation of Taliban leaders studied in a madrasa, they opted for modern education for their children. Most of them opted for "educated" brides as second wives.
According to the report, two daughters of the Foreign Minister Amir Muttaqi are studying in a college in Peshawar in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has provided a bungalow to his family in a posh locality of Peshawar.
The Taliban leaders arrived in Doha in 2009-2010 to open an office that would facilitate political reconciliation between the Taliban, the government of Afghanistan, the United States and other countries. The Qatar government allowed each of them to bring their families from Afghanistan. Since then, these families have been living extremely comfortable lives in posh areas guarded by a brigade of security forces. All their expenses are being catered for.
"Now most of them are part of the ruling class of the Taliban but none of them got their family in Kabul. They are leading comfortable lives while ordinary Afghans are living in hell," says one Afghan journalist.
The Taliban has made public pledges that all women and girls will be able to access schools at all levels when schools across the country reopen in March but for female students, the sudden end to their academic freedoms has been both traumatizing and paralysing. Many say the joy and anticipation they once felt when entering classrooms has been lost, replaced by fear and a surpassing sense of futility. (IANS)
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