After more than a year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, hopes of change in how the group treat women have completely disappeared.
Back in December 2020, the Taliban banned university education for women while also introducing restrictions for women employees.
Such measures have complicated the Taliban’s efforts to win international recognition.
To further discuss the issue, IQNA has conducted an interview with Marvin G. Weinbaum, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Weinbaum has served as analyst for Pakistan and Afghanistan in the US Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research from 1999 to 2003. He is currently director for Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies at The Middle East Institute.
What follows is his interview with IQNA:
IQNA: One year after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, we are witnessing that, contrary to the initial statements of the Taliban officials, this group has imposed severe restrictions on women. What is the reason for this?
Weinbaum: The Taliban held off initially in imposing restrictions because those with the most conservative views toward women – above all the supreme leader Akhundzada--had held back in imposing their policies until they had consolidated their grip on the movement’s leadership. There was also no doubt that it during the first year the Emirate found it useful to use a softer approach on this issue as well as others in the hope of gaining international political recognition. The resistance of the supreme leader and his very close associates to external pressures to change their approach reflect the fact that their view toward women as occupying a very narrow place in society is deeply ideological.
IQNA: Some believe that the Taliban, contrary to expectations, no longer pursues the issue of international recognition. How correct is this contract?
Weinbaum: As much as the Taliban would enjoy receiving international political recognition and development assistance, they are unwilling to compromise on any issues that they feel would detract from their realization of an authentic Islamic state.
IQNA: What effect do you think the global opposition to the Taliban's restrictions on women have on the Taliban's behavior?
Weinbaum: Strong opposition has led the Taliban to issue statements that while recognizing in principle the right of women to education and employment avoid any change of policies by contending that they are working on the details and waiting it until “the conditions are right.”
IQNA: In your opinion, the continuation of Taliban rule may be dangerous for the security of the region and Afghanistan's neighbors in the long run?
Weinbaum: While the Taliban struggle with the economy and have to face the challenge of IS-KPand other domestic challenges, they will not be a threat to the neighbors. That threat is mostly likely to come should the Kabul government unleash the several jihadi groups that now have refuge in the country to carry their insurgencies across the borders.
IQNA: How do you evaluate the future of Afghanistan if the current situation continues?
In all probably the foreseeable future is for Afghanistan to look very much as it does today.
Interview by Mohammad Hassan Goodarzi
The views and opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the view of International Quran News Agency.