On Sunday, the former president of Afghanistan, urged the Taliban government to reopen girls’ high schools and praised female students in the eastern province of Paktia who, according to locals, has been openly denouncing the idea.
On Twitter, Karzai, who stayed in Kabul after the Taliban seized power a little over a year ago, declared that the voices of the female students in Paktia represent the voices of all of our females and Afghanistan.
We want that the schools be opened by the interim Islamic administration, he added.
In March, the Taliban government abruptly reneged on its commitment to establish girls’ high schools, leaving several female pupils who had come to class in tears. Although the decision had not been formally confirmed, authorities in Paktia announced last week that female high schools had reopened.
Any rumors that schools were closed were “propaganda,” the head of Paktia’s media department told journalists on Saturday. However, Reuters was informed by three people and three Taliban officials who all declined to be identified that schools were closed on Saturday. To maintain their anonymity for security reasons, the residents—among whom is a teacher—said that some girls had protested the closure.
Numerous schoolgirls walking along a street while yelling were captured on camera by local broadcaster Tolo and posted to its website and Twitter account. The video could not be independently verified by Reuters.
Afghan and Paktia Taliban education authorities were contacted for comment, but neither responded. The organization’s representative chose not to respond.
Many Taliban members, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to talk in public about the subject, wanted girls to be able to attend high school.
Although they have not provided a timeline, the Taliban have stated that they are developing a plan to reopen high schools for girls. Girls in elementary school and female university students are nevertheless permitted to attend classes.