Girls’ education ban reveals deep rifts within Taliban

KABUL: The Taliban prohibition on girls’ education shows the movement’s ultra-conservatives retain tight control of the Islamist group, and exposes a power struggle that puts at risk crucial aid for Afghanistan’s desperate population, experts say.

The ban has triggered international outrage and even left many in the Taliban movement baffled by the decision. “The order was devastating,” a senior Taliban member told AFP. “The supreme leader himself interfered.”

All Taliban officials who spoke to AFP on the subject did so on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the topic. Secondary schools for girls were ordered to shut last month, just hours after being reopened for the first time since the Taliban’s return to power in August.

The shocking U-turn came after a secret meeting of the group’s leadership in the city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s de facto power centre. Officials have never justified the ban, apart from saying the education of girls must be according to “Islamic principles”.

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