Afghan women vow to keep on demonstrating against Taliban

‘It is a government with no signs at all of learning,’ said one female protester

Bel Trew
In Islamabad
Wednesday 08 September 2021 15:13 BST
A member of the Taliban forces points his gun at protesters, as Afghan demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul
A member of the Taliban forces points his gun at protesters, as Afghan demonstrators shout slogans during an anti-Pakistan protest in Kabul (REUTERS)
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Women protesters took to the streets of Kabul for the second day in a row after the Taliban announced an all-male interim government of veteran hardliners, despite promising to be inclusive.

The US State Department and the European Union have expressed concern that the much-awaited cabinet had no women and only included Taliban members, but said the new administration would be judged by its actions and that “the world is watching closely”.

One demonstrator told The Independent that women were bitterly disappointed by the make-up of the cabinet.

“It is a government with no signs at all of learning – they have just selected all Pashtun people and no other tribes,“ said one female protester who claims she saw Taliban members hit women protesters with the butts of their guns on Tuesday.

“There is not even a single woman in this government. Since they have entered Afghanistan, no women go to school – and if one day schools do start, the girls will have to be in full-body coverings.

“I see the future of my nieces and nephews are lost and unclear.”

On Tuesday witnesses told The Independent that Taliban security forces violently dispersed the rallies and arrested several journalists and women by firing guns into the air.

Separately, Pakistan announced on Wednesday it would be hosting a high-level meeting of foreign ministers from key countries surrounding Afghanistan including China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to discuss the situation in the country and economic ties.

But Pakistan has yet to publicly comment on the formation of the cabinet.

The new cabinet, which is drawn from Afghanistan’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group, included figures like Sirajuddin Haqqani, who was appointed as interim interior minister and who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5m (£3.6m) bounty on his head.

Some protesters in Kabul also marched to the Pakistan embassy accusing the country of intervening on behalf of the Taliban, an allegation the country has vehemently denied.

A senior Pakistani official with knowledge of the security situation called the accusations “propaganda” and said the reports the country’s military was involved in a recent assault on Panjshir stemmed from Indian media which he said had used fake footage as “proof”.

“This is propaganda polluting the minds of Afghans against us,” said the Pakistani official. “Not a single soldier has participated in any of the operations.”

The Pakistani official also told The Independent that the Taliban had promised to address Pakistan security concerns, particularly after a suicide bombing on Sunday in the southwest of the country in which three Pakistan soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded.

The attack was claimed by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the diplomatic meeting with key countries surrounding Afghanistan aims "to work together for the shared objective of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, which is essential to forge strong economic links”.

As much as 80 per cent of Afghanistan’s budget comes from the international community, and a long-running economic crisis has worsened in recent months.

There are regular flights from Qatar that bring in humanitarian aid, but it is not enough.

The United Nations has made an emergency appeal for $606m (£441m) to help nearly 11 million people in the war-ravaged country facing a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by drought, displacement, chronic poverty and the sharp increase in hostilities as the Taliban swept to power.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs already has a $1.3bn (£944m) appeal for Afghanistan but said it is only 39 per cent funded — leaving a deficit of $786m (£571m) still to be found by the end of the year.

The agency says even prior to the Taliban takeover, “the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was one of the worst in the world”.

The Independent has launched a petition urging the UK government to be more ambitious in its plans to take in Afghan refugees following the Taliban seizing power and withdrawal of western troops. Afghans are now facing a similar plight. You, our readers, have already shown your strength of feeling in letters and on social media. Here’s a chance to have your voice heard by adding your signature. We thank you for your support.To sign the petition click here

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