ISLAMABAD: The UK envoy on Thursday called on JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at his residence and asked the latter to use his influence on the Afghan Taliban to remove a bar on women’s education in Afghanistan.

Maulana Fazl, however, told High Commissioner Jane Marriott that the Western model of education was “not possible in Afghanistan due to its cultural and traditional norms”. He suggested the West should give the interim Taliban government some time and space to deal with a plethora of issues, including women’s education.

When contacted by Dawn, JUI-F spokesman Aslam Ghauri said the UK sought Maulana’s cooperation for women’s education in Afghanistan when Ms Marriott called on him at his residence. The spokesman termed the meeting a routine one, saying that “diplomats usually meet politicians”.

During the meeting, the high commissioner expressed concern over the condition of women and children in Afghanistan in terms of their education and asked the Maulana to use his influence to convince the Taliban.

On this, the JUI-F chief said the “Western system of education” could not be replicated in Afghanistan as Afghans had their own culture and traditions. He, however, said the Taliban were “devising a plan to allow women to study within the cultural and traditional norms” of Afghans and Pashtuns.

Asked why Maulana Fazl claimed on behalf of the Taliban that they were devising a plan for women’s education, the JUI-F spokesman said: “It is not a secret that we (JUI-F) have relations and roots with Taliban.”

During the meeting, Maulana Fazl said instead of being worried about the women and children of Afghanistan, the West should “take care of women and children of Palestine” who were being killed by Israel.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2023

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