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Reviewing engagement with Taliban on human rights violation in Afghanistan: US

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WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (PTI): The US is reviewing its approach and engagement with the Taliban regime in context of the slew of human rights violations taking place in Afghanistan, a top official in the Biden administration has said, emphasising that Washington is actively evaluating with its allies and partners to take the next appropriate steps towards it.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, in a press briefing on Monday said that the US continues to be the world’s leading humanitarian provider to the people of Afghanistan, providing USD 1.1 billion in assistance since August of 2021.

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“We have been reviewing our approach and engagement with the Taliban in the context of many of the human rights violations, the draconian edicts, the repugnant actions that we’ve seen from the Taliban in recent weeks and in recent months,” Price told reporters at his daily news conference here.

“I’m just not in a position to detail where we are in that process, but I can tell you we are actively evaluating with allies and partners the appropriate next steps,” he said.

Price said that the US is reviewing its approach in terms of the grave humanitarian violations that are taking place in the country as well as the actions the world has seen from the Taliban in recent weeks and recent months.

“We’ve been clear that there will be costs for the Taliban for these actions. Absolutely everything remains on the table. And we’re looking at a range of options that will allow us to maintain our principled position as the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan, that’s funding that goes directly to the Afghan people — while also doing everything we can to prevent the humanitarian situation from deteriorating even further,” he elaborated.

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These responses take some time, he said observing that they involve significant coordination with allies, with international partners, and Afghan women themselves.

“We have been in touch with senior UN officials as well. There have been delegations from the UN to Afghanistan to investigate the situation and to be a constructive force vis-à-vis what we’ve seen from the Taliban,” Price said.

In December last year, the Taliban regime banned university education for women nationwide, as they took decisive steps to crush their right to education and freedom.

It was a far cry from their promise of a softer rule when they seized power last year, with the Taliban regime strongly implementing their strict interpretation of the Islamic law, or Sharia.

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“You all are informed to immediately implement the mentioned order of suspending education of females until further notice,” according to a letter issued to all government and private universities, signed by Minister for Higher Education Neda Mohammad Nadeem.

According to Khaama Press, a high-level UN delegation travelled to Afghanistan this week and met with high-ranking Taliban officials to ensure the protection of women and girls’ rights amid the growing concern over their alienation.

As of earlier this month, about 83 per cent of organisations operating in Afghanistan have suspended or reduced their operations because they came to the conclusion that they could not do their work under these new edicts, Price lamented.

“This is unacceptable to us, but more importantly to the international community, because it imperils some 28 million Afghans who need this humanitarian assistance to survive, and especially women and children, those who are especially vulnerable,” he added.

The Taliban were ousted in 2001 by a US-led coalition for harbouring Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

They, however, returned to power following America’s chaotic departure in August 2021.

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