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The Taliban regime in Afghanistan is increasingly drawing global criticism after their recent stance of not allowing women to attend universities. In response to this, Nida Mohammad Nadim, the Taliban’s minister of higher education, broke his silence on Thursday and stated that the ban on women attending universities was put in place to prevent the mixing of the genders as well as because he thought some subjects being taught went against the teachings of Islam.

UK PM Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday (December 21) that Taliban’s latest decision was a “grave step backwards” and that  “the world is watching”.

“The women of Afghanistan have so much to offer. Denying them access to university is a grave step backwards,” the UK leader tweeted, adding: “We will judge the Taliban by their actions”.

As a father to daughters, I cannot imagine a world in which they’re denied an education.

The women of Afghanistan have so much to offer. Denying them access to university is a grave step backwards.

The world is watching. We will judge the Taliban by their actions.

— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) December 21, 2022

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The Taliban regime grabbed power immediately after US-led coalition forces left Afghanistan last year. Initially, the Taliban sought to assure the world that it will not revert to its radical ways as seen during their previous rule in late 1990s. They even said publicly that women would be allowed to attend universities. 

However, the regime slowly began to roll back social progress that had been achieved in two decades under US-supported regime. Primary schools for girls were shut and unreasonable social restrictions on women made return.

The latest in the backward journey was Taliban’s decision to prohibit women from going to universities.

The decision has already drawn sharp reactions from the United States and the United Nations

“It’s another very troubling move and it’s difficult to imagine how the country can develop, deal with all of the challenges that it has, without active participation of women and the education of women,” said Stephen Dujarric, United Nations spokesperson.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply dismayed” due to the development.

“Deeply dismayed by the announcement from the Taliban denying women the right to a university education. Afghan women deserve better. Afghanistan deserves better,” he said.

“The Taliban have just definitively set back their objective of being accepted by the international community.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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