Pakistan urged the Afghan authorities to revisit the decision to suspend university and higher education for girls in Afghanistan, a press statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) stated on Wednesday.

“Pakistan is disappointed to learn about the suspension of university and higher education for female students in Afghanistan,” the statement read.

The press release added that Pakistan’s position on this issue has been clear and consistent, furthering that “we strongly believe that every man and woman has the inherent right to education in accordance with the injunctions of Islam”.

A day earlier, Afghanistan’s Taliban-run higher education ministry had announced that female students would not be allowed access to the country’s universities until further notice.

A letter, confirmed by a spokesperson for the higher education ministry, instructed Afghan public and private universities to suspend access to female students immediately, in accordance with a Cabinet decision.

The latest Taliban restriction on female education is likely to raise concerns in the international community, which has not officially recognised the de facto administration.

Foreign governments, including the United States, have said that a change in policies on women’s education is needed before it can consider formally recognising the Taliban-run administration, which is also subject to heavy sanctions.

The former US special envoy to the region Zalmay Khalilzad expressed resentment over the Afghan Taliban’s announcement to suspend university education for girls and said that the development is “shocking and incomprehensible”.

“Women’s banishment from higher education by a faction within the Taliban is shocking and incomprehensible,” said Khalilzad.

The ex-US special envoy added that there is nothing within Islam or in Afghan history to justify such a decision.

He said that distinguished Islamic scholars in Afghanistan and around the world remind us that education for women as well as for men is a basic Islamic principle.

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