Prominent religious scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani has urged the Taliban government in Afghanistan to allow girls' schools to reopen.
In a letter addressed to Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada, Mufti Usmani, the vice president of Darul Uloom Karachi and highly regarded among the Taliban, emphasised the need for educating women and for the reopening of girls' schools in the neighbouring country.
"Girls' education is currently an important issue which the enemy of the Islamic Emirate has used as a propaganda tool. We value the wise and wholehearted measures which the Islamic Emirate has taken so far. But we are of the view that it is necessary to make appropriate arrangements for girls' education in accordance with Sharia," Mufti Usmani said in the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.
Because educated women are essential for dealing with women's issues, including medical treatment, education and welfare activities, [education is necessary] so that women and men do not mix in society, he said.
"Second, there is a need to dispel the impression that Islam or the Islamic Emirate are against women. However, it is necessary to make segregated arrangements for girls' education – separate from those for boys."
Mufti Usmani went on to say that he had heard that space was not available for setting up separate educational institutions for boys and girls.
The solution for this could be introducing different school timings for boys and girls, he suggested. He also suggested that different sections of the same school could be specifically designated for each gender.
"A solution can be found with mutual consultations," he said.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Faqirullah Faeq, who served as a judge in the previous Taliban rule, told Dawn.com on Thursday that many scholars in Afghanistan were in favour of girls' education.
Earlier, a group of 16 Pakistan-based Afghan ulema had also written to the Taliban leadership in support of girls' education which they argued was in line with Islamic principles.
When the Taliban took over last August, schools were closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but only boys and younger girls were allowed to resume classes two months later.
On March 23, the Taliban announced it was reopening secondary schools for girls. Hours later, as girls were returning to school for the first time in seven months, the Taliban leadership reversed their decision until an appropriate uniform for girls is decided.
Last month, the United States and the United Nations had warned the Taliban that the failure to reopen girls’ schools could hurt their efforts to get international recognition and rebuild the Afghan economy.
The US had also cancelled talks with the Taliban in Qatar over the reversal.