Qatar flexes its diplomatic muscle in Afghanistan

According to an Afghan foreign ministry statement, Qatar has sent a foreign affairs ministry envoy to meet with the Taliban administration’s acting foreign minister.

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Afghan girls at school in Herat. Afghanistan.2019

The visit follows the Taliban administration placing further restrictions on women, now banned from attending university or from working in certain areas, including NGOs and nongovernmental organizations, and asked to stay home when working for government institutions.

Qatar’s foreign minister spoke of the news being “deeply concerning” during interviews, namely at Davos and stressed the importance of dialogue.

The Taliban government is yet to be formally recognised by any foreign country, however both Pakistan and China sent foreign ministers last year, and amid global public indignation, the U.N. deputy special representative visited last month to discuss aid and women’s rights.

The special envoy of Qatar’s foreign minister, Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani, held meetings with Amir Khan Muttaqi, acting foreign minister in Kabul.

According to Afghan foreign affairs spokesperson, Abdul Qahar Balkhi,
“Both sides discussed political coordination, the strength of the relationship and humanitarian aid”, which suggests the topic of women’s rights was tabled.

The Taliban’s return to power has affected all citizens, but Afghan women the most. According to US News & World Report “Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Western-backed government quickly fell to extremists.

On August 15th 2021, the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul. Initially, promising to continue upholding women’s rights, the Taliban quickly began restricting women from public daily life, from visiting parks and gyms, to higher education and the workplace.

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