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Doval voices concern over terror network in Afghanistan

He said that the members of the UN should refrain from providing assistance to institutions involved in the terrorist activities…reports Asian Lite News

India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval in a conference termed the existence of terrorist networks in Afghanistan as a matter of concern.

It is the first time that India was hosting a conference of top security officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan wherein the emerging security situation in Afghanistan and ways to deal with the threat of terrorism emanating from it were discussed.

In the India-Central NSA level conference held in Delhi on Tuesday, Doval initiated by welcoming the National Security Advisors, Secretaries of the Security Councils of the countries.

Addressing the occasion, Doval underlined the need to prioritise combating terror financing and said that terrorism survived because of financing.

He added that the existence of terrorist networks in Afghanistan was a matter of concern.

He said that the members of the UN should refrain from providing assistance to institutions involved in the terrorist activities.

Doval said that Afghanistan was an important issue for all and India’s concerns and objectives regarding the immediate priorities and the way forward were common to the countries present in the meeting.

He said that the meeting was being held at a time where uncertainty lied about the future and international relations and said that a peaceful, secure and prosperous Central Asia was their common interest.

He further said that connectivity with the Central Asian countries remained a key priority for India.

Doval added that the country stood ready to collaborate, invest and build connectivity in the region while ensuring that the initiative is consultative, transparent and participatory.

He said that Central Asia was India’s extended neighbourhood.

According to information, Doval was likely to hold separate bilateral meetings with his counterparts amid growing concerns over the security situation in Afghanistan.

This is the first one-day NSA-level meeting after the first summit in January, 2022 between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

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Afghan crisis dominates Central Asian NSA meet in Delhi

Marat Imankulov, Secretary to the Security Council of Kyrgyzalso noted commonality in resolving the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on peace, security and stability in the region…reports Asian Lite News

Counterterrorism, regional security, and the situation in Afghanistan were the dominating issues during the meeting of “National Security Advisers/Secretaries of Security Councils” of Central Asian countries, who gathered in the national capital on Tuesday.

Addressing the Central Asian representatives here, Uzbekistan Secretary Security Council Viktor Makhmudov said today’s agenda is important to coordinate efforts to ensure regional security and expansion of practical cooperation on Afghanistan.

“We should not allow Afghanistan to be isolated and leave it on its own to deal with social, economic and humanitarian crisis,” he said. “Because this will lead to increasing poverty in the region. Peace in Afghanistan is important as it also has new strategic possibilities, opportunities and it can be an area of growth and transport corridors and markets in this area.”

Tajikistan’s Security Council Secretary Nasrullo Mahmudzoda said new challenges and threats, including cybercrime, cyber terrorism and environmental, and biological threats, are emerging against the background of instability and uncertainty in different parts of the world.

He underlined that the highly destructive ideology of religious radicalism is advancing rapidly. “In this context, security issues remain a key focus of our work.”

“It is impossible to ensure international security without resolving internal conflicts. The situation in Afghanistan remains the most complex. Tajikistan committed to working closely with all countries to ensure peace, security and stability in our region and in Afghanistan,” he added.

Marat Imankulov, Secretary to the Security Council of Kyrgyz, noted that central Asian countries and India have a common interest in developing measures to combat terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking. Imankulov also noted commonality in resolving the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on peace, security and stability in the region.

On the trade front, the Secretary to the Security Council of Kazakhstan said trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation between Central and South Asia is receiving a new impetus. “The condition for the disclosure of this huge potential is to ensure security in our space on the basis of coordinator approaches,” he said.

During his remarks, Turkmenistan’s envoy to India Shalar Geldynazarov laid emphasis on the need to join forces to strengthen partnership between Central Asian countries and India in countering all regional and global challenges such as international terrorism, drug-arms trafficking and cross-border organised crime.

“This meeting is considered by Turkmenistan as one of the mechanisms to develop a consolidated regional approach to ensuring peace and stability and providing security to Afghanistan,” he said. (ANI)

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Pak envoy survives assassination bid in Kabul

A Pakistani security guard Israr Mohammad has been critically injured in the attack while protecting Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, Pakistan’s Head of Mission to Kabul, reports Asian Lite News

Pakistan’s Head of Mission to Kabul, Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani has survived an assassination bid, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed.

In a statement, the Ministry said the Embassy’s compound in Kabul came under attack on Friday targeting the head of mission, but “by the grace of Allah Almighty, the head of mission is safe”, Geo News reported.

However, a Pakistani security guard Israr Mohammad has been critically injured in the attack while protecting Nizamani, the
Foreign Office said.

It said that Pakistan’s government strongly condemns the assassination attempt and attack on the embassy demanding the Afghan government conduct an immediate investigation into the incident, Geo News reported.

“The interim government of Afghanistan must immediately hold thorough investigations in this attack, apprehend the culprits, hold them to account, and take urgent measures to ensure the safety and security of Pakistani diplomatic personnel and citizens in Afghanistan,” the Office added.

While saving the head of mission during the attack, according to Geo News, the security guard sustained three bullets in his chest and was later shifted to a medical facility.

Sources said that the attack took place while the Nizamani was on a walk.

When the incident happened, there was no activity in the Pakistani Embassy due to weekly off. The head of mission and other officials are being called back to Pakistan temporarily, the sources said.

In response to a media query, MOFA Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said there are no plans to close the embassy or withdraw diplomats from Kabul.

The spokesperson said Pakistan is in contact with the Afghan government and enhanced security measures are being taken to protect Pakistani diplomatic personnel and missions in Afghanistan.

Later in the day, Pakistan summoned Afghan Charge d’Affaires Sardar Muhammad Shokaib to convey its deep concern and anguish over the attack on Ambassador Nizamani, the Foreign Office said.

The statement further added that the additional secretary for Afghanistan and West Asia conveyed Pakistan’s grave concern over the serious incident in which the head of mission remained unhurt, Geo News reported.

The Afghan official was informed that it was his country’s responsibility to ensure that Pakistan’s diplomatic missions and personnel remain safe, the Foreign Office said.

“…this incident was an extremely serious security lapse,” Pakistani officials told Shokaib.

They demanded all necessary steps be taken to ensure the security of the diplomatic premises, officers, and staff working in Pakistan’s mission in Kabul and Consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Calling the attack “highly unfortunate”, the Afghan Charge d’Affaires said that the attack was perpetrated by the common enemies of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari received a call from his Afghan counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi in the wake of the
attack, with the latter strongly condemning the incident, Geo News reported.

Reiterating Afghanistan’s firm resolve to combat terrorism, Muttaqi assured the Foreign Minister that the Taliba-led Afghan government would swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

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‘Taliban helping LeT and JeM to shift base to Afghanistan’

Nabil said that while engaging the Taliban was necessary for India in its “own interests”, New Delhi should keep channels open with former leaders as well…reports Asian Lite News

Pakistani terror groups like Jaish e Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar e Toiba (LeT) have shifted bases to Afghanistan with help from the Taliban, according to a former top Afghan intelligence official.

In an interview to The Hindu, Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), cautioned that India must not let its guard down despite its engagement with Taliban as the terrorist groups have got access to more technology and territory.

Nabil said that while engaging the Taliban was necessary for India in its “own interests”, New Delhi should keep channels open with former leaders as well, even though they are now out of power, The Hindu reported.

Nabil, who served under both Presidents Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani, had closely cooperated with India during his tenure (2010-2015). He was resigned over President Ghani’s visit to Pakistan, and decision to set up hotlines between security chiefs, it was reported.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador R Ravindra

Earlier in November, India had expressed concern over the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and asked the UN Security Council Sanctions Monitoring Team to keep up its vigilance against terror groups using the war-torn country.

India’s Deputy Permanent Representative R. Ravindra told the General Assembly that the Monitoring Team has played a useful role and India “expects them to continue to monitor and report on all terrorist groups that might use Afghanistan as a base to target other countries”.

He noted that the Council in a resolution “unequivocally demands that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for sheltering, training, planning, or financing terrorist acts, specifically terrorist individuals and entities proscribed by the UN Security Council, including Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad”.

The two terror groups have carried out attacks on India.

Ravindra was speaking on a resolution expressing serious concern over the presence in Afghanistan of terrorist groups like the Al Qaeda and the Islamic State that was adopted by the General Assembly.

It also condemned the Taliban’s violation of human rights, especially of women and girls, and said that it was deeply concerned about Afghanistan’s dire economic and humanitarian situation.

The resolution introduced by Germany received 116 votes and there were none against it, but Pakistan. China, Russia and North Korea, along with six other countries, abstained.

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Survey finds 97 pc Afghans living below poverty line

According to the survey, severe food shortages are being experienced by more than half of Afghanistan’s population as a result of drought and poor governance…reports Asian Lite News

Since the Taliban captured Afghanistan from the US troops in mid-August last year, the country’s economy has undergone a deep crisis, leading to acute food shortage and pushing 97 per cent of the country’s population below the poverty line, the survey released by International Organization for Migration (IOM) in coordination with EU partnerships said.

According to the survey, severe food shortages are being experienced by more than half of Afghanistan’s population as a result of drought and poor governance, which has a negative impact on their livelihoods and leaves many people in rural areas with few options for diversifying their sources of income, TOLOnews reported. “Nearly 60 per cent of the population suffers from climate shock,” the Survey said.

Concerns regarding Afghanistan’s poor wheat supplies were also voiced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock.

“We are producing between 4.7 to 5 million metric tons of wheat annually with the climate changes in Afghanistan,” said Mohammad Qassim Obaidi, an official of the ministry.

According to the IOM, one of the biggest effects of the “Taliban takeover of economies in major towns” on infrastructure was the reduction in employment prospects as a result of electricity cuts and decreased pricing, which led to the closure of many factories, TOLOnews reported citing the survey.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme has also raised concerns about the economic crisis in Afghanistan.

“The economic crisis wiped out jobs, salaries & livelihoods across Afghanistan, helping families & communities support themselves is more important than ever,” wrote WFP on Twitter.

The rising crisis in Afghanistan has hit small enterprises the hardest and private companies have laid off more than half of their employees due to a shortage in sales and a drastic decline in the consumer demand for products. Moreover, millions of Afghans are on the brink of starvation as the country reels from a humanitarian crisis.

After the Taliban seized power following the hasty withdrawal of US soldiers, the international community froze Afghanistan’s assets and withheld help.

According to the International Labour Organization, more than 500,000 Afghan workers lost their jobs in the third quarter of 2021, and the number of people who will lose their jobs since the Taliban took control is expected to surge in the coming year, Khaama Press reported. (ANI)

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India may restart 20 stalled projects in Afghanistan: Taliban

Locals believe that implementing the projects will facilitate job opportunities, decrease poverty and unemployment, and boost development in the country…reports Asian Lite News

Taliban on Wednesday said that India may restart 20 stalled projects in Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) of Afghanistan said that the Indian charges d’affaires, Bharat Kumar, expressed India’s interest in improving relations and the resumption of Delhi’s projects in Afghanistan, reported Tolo News. Kumar made the remarks in a meeting with the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Hamdullah Nomani.

The agency quoting the MUDH Ministry said, “It is expected that India will resume work on at least 20 projects in several provinces of the country. Kumar made the remarks in a meeting with the Minister of Urban Development and Housing, Hamdullah Nomani, in Kabul.

“Projects they were implemented during the former government but were delayed due to political changes or other issues–they are now interested in resuming these projects, said Mohammad Kamal Afghan, a spokesman for the MUDH.

Economists said they believe that the implementation of the projects will facilitate job opportunities and boost development in the country, reported Tolo News.

“The resumption of these projects can also create job opportunities for the people and it can promote people’s income and drive Afghanistan out of political isolation,” said Darya Khan Baheer, an economist.

“The restart of these projects will decrease the level of poverty and unemployment,” said Nazkamir Ziarmal, an economist.

The Pajhwok Afghan News meanwhile said that Urban Development and Land Affairs Acting Minister Mawlavi Hamdullah Nomani had urged the Indian business community to invest in the urban development sector of Afghanistan.

On its Twitter handle, the Ministry wrote that acting Minister Nomani met the charge de affairs of the Indian embassy in Kabul. During this visit, the acting Minister Nomani said: “The Indian businessmen can invest in the urban and housing sector, especially in the New Kabul City project”.

Numani further added, “India implemented some projects in Afghanistan in the past, while some of them remained incomplete due to non-payment”. He asked the Indian government to clear its stance about the incomplete projects as well.

“Projects they were implemented during the former government but were delayed due to political changes or other issues–they are now interested in resuming these projects, said Mohammad Kamal Afghan, a spokesman for the MUDH.

Locals believe that implementing the projects will facilitate job opportunities, decrease poverty and unemployment, and boost development in the country.

In addition, the visiting Indian envoy was requested to provide the Afghan nationals with scholarships for master’s and PhD degrees in the civil and urban development field to increase Afghan engineers’ capacity further.

Charge de affairs Bharat Kumar said the ministry could share information about all the mentioned projects. He will convey the message to the Indian government to solve their problems and make all projects ready to use.

I have received some details about the New Kabul Project, and I would talk about them to Indian investors as well, Kumar said.

India had to stop all its projects once the Taliban took over the reins of power in August 2021. India then closed its embassy, which restarted functioning a few months ago. India still has security issues as several civilian projects, religious places and the Russian embassy were targeted recently by suspected Islamic State terrorists.

India, before the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, had invested in developmental and capacity-building projects of around three billion dollars.

The significant projects India supported in Afghanistan were: The 42MW Salma Dam in Herat province was inaugurated in 2016 and is known as the Afghan-India Friendship Dam. The other high-profile project was the 218-km Zaranj-Delaram highway built by the Border Roads Organisation. Zaranj is located close to Afghanistan’s border with Iran.

India built the Afghan Parliament in Kabul for $90 million. A block in the building is named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In 2016, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the restored Stor Palace in Kabul, initially built in the late 19th century. India also constructed one of its leading hospitals in Kabul.

India, in the past, has been supporting in developing the human resources, giving training to professionals and offering a considerable number o scholarships and admissions to Afghan students to study in India.

The Indian projects are mostly people-centric in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. The projects were aimed at making Afghanistan a self-sufficient nation. India also operationalized air freight corridors and the Chabahar Port to enhance regional connectivity to Afghanistan.

India presently has been voicing deep concern at the unfolding humanitarian situation in Afghanistan; India donated consignments of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. These include 40,000 MTs of wheat, about 50 tonnes of medical aid consisting of essential lifesaving medicines, anti-TB medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID vaccine, essential medical/surgical items, and 28 tons of other disaster relief material. (ANI)

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India, Afghanistan to restart trade

India has not accorded recognition to the Taliban government but has been providing humanitarian assistance…reports Asian Lite News

The Afghan Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) said that it has signed a new Air Corridor Agreement with India to enable air trade between the two countries.

Trade between the two South Asian neighbours had come to a standstill after the Taliban fighters took over Afghanistan in August 2021 following withdrawal by the American and NATO troops.

Afghan news agency Ariana News quoted MoIC spokesperson Abdul Salam Jawad as saying that export of “Afghanistan’s commercial commodities to India continues through Wagah port and that in the past year, the country has exported more than 14 billion afghanis via the port”. India is a big importer of saffron, dry fruits and asafoetida.

Jawad added that cargo flights between Afghanistan and India will increase exports of fresh and dry fruits, handicrafts and other commercial items, giving a boost to the Afghan economy.

Before the Taliban takeover, the two countries carried out trade through two air routes – Kabul-Delhi and also Kabul-Mumbai. The second route had been opened only in December 2017 for India to import fresh fruits and medicinal plants from Afghanistan. This was started after observing the success of the Kabul-Delhi route inaugurated by then Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in June-2017.

The cash-strapped Taliban government remains a pariah with international governments due to its resistance to include minorities and women in governance.

India has not accorded recognition to the Taliban government but has been providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food, vaccines and medicines. India has been routing its wheat through Pakistan and has also sent aid during natural calamities.

India ask US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s blocked assets

India along with 13 other countries has asked the US to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets in order to help its economy that has collapsed since the Taliban takeover of Kabul last year.

The matter was discussed in the fourth meeting of ‘Moscow Format’ talks led by Russia last week. The US, however, did not participate in the talks and neither representatives of Taliban were present.

Apart from India and Russia, other countries which took part in the talks were China, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Representatives of Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Türkiye were also present.

The participating countries also told the Taliban that establishing military infrastructure facilities of “third countries” in Afghanistan is “unacceptable”.

“Forces responsible for the 20-year military presence in Afghanistan should take on the main financial burden for the post-conflict reconstruction of the Afghan economy for the welfare and well-being of common Afghans without intervention in internal affairs of Afghanistan,” said a joint statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

It also said that “all sections of Afghan society have requested in common that the US unfreeze overseas assets and urged to take all necessary steps to release the blocked Afghan national reserves. Most of the delegations agreed to make a call to compensate for the damage caused to the Afghan people during the years of US – NATO presence.”

New Delhi was represented by J. P. Singh, Joint Secretary of Pakistan- Afghanistan-Iran division, Ministry of External Affairs. On the sidelines of the talks, Singh also held discussions with Special Envoys for Afghanistan of the participating countries.

The countries also asked the Taliban to not allow Afghanistan to “serve as a breeding ground, safe haven or source of proliferation for terrorism” and condemned the terror attacks targeting innocent civilians at public places, including educational institutes, and the recent attack at the Russian Embassy in Kabul.

“It was stressed that the placement of military infrastructure facilities of third countries in Afghanistan and in adjacent states is unacceptable,” the member countries said.

The Taliban, while expressing discontent for not being invited to the talks, “strongly urged” the attendees to not allow other countries to use their own land or air space against Afghanistan.

“We want to underscore that Islamic Emirate — just as it fought against the 20-year occupation posing a direct threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan and the region — as an independent government will not allow any third country to place military facilities in Afghanistan. Similarly, we strongly urge other countries to not put their land and airspace at the disposal of other countries against Afghanistan,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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‘Extremely volatile’: Britons advised against travel to Afghanistan

This comes as many countries in the international community are concerned about the resurgence of terrorism and the threats of terrorist groups emanating from Afghanistan…reports Asian Lite News

United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) issued an advisory for British nationals against travelling to Afghanistan as the situation in the country is “extremely volatile”, Khaama Press reported.

The FCDO said that there are no British consular officials present in Afghanistan, and their capacity to offer consular assistance is severely constrained and cannot be provided in person within Afghanistan.

If British nationals still choose to travel or remain in Afghanistan despite the “heightened,” they should maintain a low profile and exercise caution, according to the FCDO.

British citizens may access consular services at the British embassies in neighboring nations, the FCDO stated.

This comes as many countries in the international community are concerned about the resurgence of terrorism and the threats of terrorist groups emanating from Afghanistan, reported Khaama Press.

Photo taken on Nov. 30, 2021 shows the site of a blast in Kabul, capital of Afghanistan. (Photo by Aria/Xinhua/IANS)

Terrorist attacks continue to be a serious threat throughout Afghanistan, including in the area of the airport. Tensions have risen as a result of incidents like the death of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in July 2022.

Recently, in Kabul, the Afghanis witnessed several attacks on educational institutions. In September, there was an attack at the Kaaj Educational Center in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

This series of blasts come as the Taliban completed one year of its rule in Afghanistan following the ouster of the US-backed civilian government last year.

Rights groups said the Taliban had broken multiple pledges to respect human and women’s rights. In a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) repeatedly attacked Hazaras and other religious minorities at their mosques, schools, and workplaces. While the Taliban have done little to protect these minority communities from suicide bombings and other unlawful attacks from the Islamic State’s (ISIS) affiliate in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban seized power in August last year, the IS has claimed responsibility for 13 attacks against Hazaras and has been linked to at least 3 more, killing and injuring at least 700 people.

According to HRW, the Hazara are a predominantly Shia Muslim ethnic group that has faced discrimination and abuse by successive Afghan governments for over a century. During the 1990s, Taliban forces targeted the Shia for mass killings and other serious abuses. With the Taliban back in power, the Hazara have been increasingly concerned for their safety and whether the new authorities will protect them. (ANI)

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‘Over 64 kids killed in British military ops in Afghanistan’

These incidents specifically involved the mention of a child or the listing aged under 18, the report added…reports Asian Lite News

British forces have paid compensation for the deaths of 64 children in Afghanistan, a much higher death toll than previously acknowledged by the country, according to a new report by a United Kingdom-based charity.

Between 2006-14, there were 64 confirmed child victims in Afghanistan, where the British military paid compensation, although the number of children killed could be as high as 135, according to data exclusively obtained by Action on Armed Violence (AAOV).

According to AAOV, an analysis of these compensation payments shows that, between April 2007 and December 2012, there were 38 incidents involving 64 confirmed child fatalities where the relatives of the children were paid compensation following UK military engagements.

These incidents specifically involved the mention of a child or the listing aged under 18, the report added.

The London-based group said the average age of a child killed during British military operations, where an age was given, was six years old. An age was given in some 27 recorded and compensated deaths.

“In September of the same year, an 18-month-old girl was also killed in Nad-e Ali, a district in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Both were killed alongside their mother or ‘father’s wife’; just over 3,000 pi was paid for their deaths,” the group said.

The total pay-out for the incidents involving confirmed child fatalities was £144,593, although this total includes other adults killed.

Iain Overton, Executive Director of Action on Armed Violence, said of the findings: “The number of children killed following British military action in Helmand should give pause for thought. War invariably leads to death and modern war will always bring civilian casualties, but not reporting on such deaths – however much it might be a source of regret and horror to the soldiers involved in the killings and however accidental such deaths were – would be an omission of responsibility and an erosion of truth.”

“This report hopes to give some details to the often-forgotten children killed in war and, in some way, to send a warning to future Westminster politicians who might consider sending troops into battle,” Overton added.

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Women uprising: Taliban crack down on Afghan universities

In the latest incident, the Taliban beat dozens of female students who staged a rally on October 30 outside their university in the northeastern province of Badakhshan….reports Asian Lite News

Afghanistan’s universities have become a hotbed of resistance to the Taliban, with female students staging protests against the militant group’s sweeping restrictions on women.

In response, the Taliban has cracked down on several university campuses across the country, violently breaking up demonstrations and expelling students accused of political activism, RFE/RL reported.

In the latest incident, the Taliban beat dozens of female students who staged a rally on October 30 outside their university in the northeastern province of Badakhshan.

Afghan students attend school in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, March 20, 2022. (Photo by Sanaullah Seiam/Xinhua/IANS)

The incident came after a group of women were barred from entering the campus because of their appearance, RFE/RL reported.

Weeks after seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban had imposed a new dress code and gender segregation for women at universities and colleges across the country.

The Taliban’s Education Ministry ordered that all female students, teachers, and staff must wear an all-encompassing burqa or an Islamic abaya robe and niqab that covers the hair, body, and most of the face.

Classes must also be segregated by gender — or at least divided by a curtain. Female students must be taught only by other women.

The order was condemned by activists, who said it would create fear and a culture of discrimination against women and girls.

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