The UN’s top envoy on Saturday discussed with the Taliban-led Afghan government’s minister of higher education a ban on women entering universities.
On December 20, Taliban officials ordered the closure of public and private universities for women. It has sparked widespread international condemnation, including from Muslim-majority countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Markus Potzel is the first international official to meet Taliban Minister of Higher Education Nida Mohammad Nadeem since the ban began last month.
Nadeem defended the ban, believing that it is important to prevent the mixing of the sexes in universities and that some courses violate Islamic principles.
That ban followed days after Afghan women were barred from working at national and international NGOs, another decision that drew international condemnation and the suspension of work by major aid agencies.
According to the UN mission in Afghanistan, Potzel in his meeting with Nadeem called for the immediate lifting of these restrictions, saying that the country is entering a new crisis.
Nadeem told Potzel that the ministry is working for the development and improvement of Afghanistan by protecting Islamic and national values, according to the information shared by the ministry’s spokesperson Zialah Hashmi.
Opponents began to criticize the application of Islamic issues and use education as an argument to achieve their “bad intentions”.
“There is no room for criticism and at the same time we have to meet the needs of Afghans who have sacrificed for Islamic governance,” Nadim told Potzel at the meeting. .
He also said that the rulers of Afghanistan will not accept anyone’s request under pressure on Islamic principles.
According to the ministry’s spokesperson, Potzel said that higher education in any country has a direct impact on the country’s economic situation and thanked Nadeem for his time.
The envoy promised to cooperate in the development of higher education in Afghanistan and shared with Nadeem his plans for women’s education.
Potzel met with Minister of Economy Qari Din Mohamed Hanif, who issued a ban on NGOs; Deputy Prime Minister Abdulsalam Hanafi; Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and former President Hamid Karzai in recent days to discuss violence against women and girls.
The talks come ahead of the UN Security Council’s January 13 closed session on Afghanistan.
Nadeem, a former provincial governor, police chief and army chief, was appointed prime minister by the Taliban in October and has previously pledged to abolish secular education. He opposes female education saying it is against Islam and Afghan values.