Taliban leadership has announced that women’s rights will be decided by a council of Islamic scholars strictly following sharia law, and there will be no democracy in Afghanistan.

The Islamist militant movement‘s main spokesman claimed Tuesday that women would be allowed to “work and study” and be “very active in society,” even potentially playing a role in government.

But a senior Taliban leader walked back those comments on Wednesday, telling Reuters that the role of women — including their right to work and education and how they should dress — has yet to be decided.

“Our ulema (scholars) will decide whether girls are allowed to go to school or not,” said Waheedullah Hashimi, who has access to the group’s decision-making.

“They will decide whether they should wear hijab, burqa, or only (a) veil plus abaya or something, or not. That is up to them,” he said of the council.

The decisions will be made with strict adherence to sharia law, the same Islamic rules used during the group’s brutal 1996-2001 rule. Girls were not allowed to go to school and women had to wear all-enveloping burqas to go out, and then only when accompanied by a male relative. They were also banned from working.

Waheedullah Hashimi (C), a senior Taliban commander, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview at an undisclosed location near Afghanistan-Pakistan border
Waheedullah Hashimi (center) on Wednesday walked back the claims that women would be “very active in society.”
REUTERS/Stringer

Those who broke the rules sometimes suffered humiliation and public beatings by the Taliban’s religious police. There were also numerous reports of rapes and girls being forced into arranged marriages.

“People in Afghanistan, 99.99 percent are Muslims and they believe in Islam,” Hashimi told the wire service.

“When you believe in laws, definitely you should apply that law. We have a council, a very prominent council of Ulema. They will decide what to do.”

Similarly, the exact way the group will govern has yet to be finalized, with that also to follow the same strict religious principles, Hashimi said.

Afghan female students talk after school outside the Zarghoona high school in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghan female students talk after school outside the Zarghoona high school in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

“There will be no democratic system at all because it does not have any base in our country,” he told Reuters. 

“We will not discuss what type of political system should we apply in Afghanistan because it is clear. It is sharia law and that is it.”

Taliban supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, will likely remain in overall charge and “maybe his deputy will play the role of ‘president’,” Hashimi said, speaking in English.

The three deputies are Mawlavi Yaqoob, son of the group’s founder, Mullah Omar; Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar, who returned this week from 20 years’ exile; and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the Haqqani network that the US branded a terrorist group in 2012.

Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Taliban fighters patrol in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan.
Rahmat Gul/AP

Despite its surge across Afghanistan in recent weeks, Hashimi said even the Taliban had not expected to enter Kabul so soon, or the president to flee.

“There was no one to resist. No one at all. So we entered and everything was laid kind of empty,” he said. “So we occupied and now we are in control of Kabul city.” 

The group now plans to set up a new national armed force that would include its own members as well as government soldiers willing to join.

“Most of them have got training in Turkey and Germany and England. So we will talk to them to get back to their positions,” he said.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada
The Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada will likely remain in charge.
REUTERS

“Of course we will have some changes, to have some reforms in the army, but still we need them and will call them to join us,” he said, saying they are particularly in need of trained pilots.

He said the Taliban expected neighboring countries to return aircraft that had landed in their territory — an apparent reference to the 22 military planes, 24 helicopters and hundreds of Afghan soldiers who fled to Uzbekistan over the weekend. 

With Post wires



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