A leading Afghan women’s group urged a Pakistan minister not to forget their plight as she visited Kabul Tuesday to discuss relations with the country’s Taliban rulers.
The trip by Hina Rabbani Khar, Islamabad’s first woman foreign minister in 2011 but now a minister of state, comes weeks after the Taliban imposed new restrictions on Afghan women, barring them from parks, fun fairs, gyms and public baths.
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan said Friday that Taliban restrictions on women and girls could amount to a “crime against humanity”.
“You serve as an example of the status of women in our neighboring country,” the Afghan Women’s Network, representing several activist groups, said in an open letter to Khar.
“We call on you to use your visit not only as minister but as a woman and as a Muslim woman leader to support the women of Afghanistan and strengthen our solidarity.”
Pakistan has complicated relations with the Taliban, with Islamabad long accused of supporting the hardline Islamists even while backing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled them following the 9/11 attacks.
Pakistan is home to over a million Afghan refugees, and the porous border they share is frequently the scene of clashes.
On Monday, Pakistan’s separate but home-grown Taliban — whose leaders and fighters have long operated from Afghanistan — said they were ending a shaky ceasefire with Islamabad.
Since returning to power in August last year, the Afghan Taliban have insisted they would not allow foreign militant groups to operate from home soil.
No country has recognized the Taliban government and visits by foreign diplomats — let alone high-profile women — are rare.