The Daily Telegraph

Taliban sack minister who backed girls going to school

- By Joe Wallen SOUTH ASIA CORRESPOND­ENT and Sami Yousafzai

THE Taliban have sacked their education minister because he was in favour of allowing girls to go to secondary school, according to senior officials.

Noorullah Munir has been replaced with a hardline figure from the Taliban’s conservati­ve heartland who is opposed to girls’ education in Afghanista­n. Maulvi Habibullah Agha is a close ally of Haibatulla­h Akhunzada, the Taliban supreme leader.

In March, Mr Munir had announced Afghanista­n’s girls could return to secondary school but a last minute u-turn from Mr Akhunzada saw girls sent home once they arrived at classrooms.

“Mr Akhunzada has brought someone to head the ministry of education who is part of the Taliban, who are strictly against women’s education,” a senior minister told The Daily Telegraph, on condition of anonymity.

“The outgoing minister of education was the one who had brought the proposal to allow girls back to school [in March] to Mr Akhunzada directly. But he waited for three days and had his proposal rejected, causing him great embarrassm­ent and disappoint­ment.”

Afghanista­n remains the only country where girls are unable to study.

Many Taliban officials outside the top leadership support girls’ education, according to the minister, and are secretly sending their daughters to schools abroad, or to clandestin­e schools in Afghan cities.

“Many officials want to raise their voice against the ban but they are not brave enough to do so in public,” added the minister.

The ban is one reason cited by the US in its refusal to release more than £6billion of frozen Afghan assets, with women also banned from the workplace in Afghanista­n.

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