Afghanistan: Women will not work at ministerial level in Taliban government

The Taliban will not allow women to serve at ministerial level in the new Afghan government but may offer them less senior positions on the condition that they did not cooperate with the previous US-backed administration, the group has said.

Abbas Stanikzai, a Taliban spokesman based in Doha, told the BBC that an “inclusive” new government would be announced in the next two days.

It came as a British MP warned that Taliban hit squads are hunting down and intend to kill female members of the now dissolved Afghan parliament.

Nusrat Ghani, a Conservative MP, said she had been in touch with one of her Afghan counterparts who had moved between safe houses three times since the Taliban seized the Afghan capital two weeks ago.

“She has been told she will be killed if the Taliban get hold of her. They have already raided her home, they have already hung her dog,” she told the BBC’s Today programme.

“The best outcome she believed if she is caught by the Taliban is to be shot and killed. What she fears is being brutalised and her family being brutalised,” she said.

“She has been abandoned and if women like her are all killed there won’t be any women left in Afghanistan to take up the positions the Taliban is offering them.”

Campaigners say more than half of Afghanistan’s 67 female MPs are still inside the country after being turned away or unable to reach the Western evacuation effort from Kabul airport last week.

Victoria Atkins, the home office minister responsible for Afghan resettlement, said the women were in a “terrifying” situation but that efforts to bring vulnerable Afghans to safety would “take a bit of time”.

“I am very, very conscious of the threats that so many people are facing,” she said on Times Radio. “There are many moving parts to this.”

She said the UK Government was talking to the Taliban and the governments of neighbouring countries to facilitate safe passage for those wishing to flee.

Afghanistan has been without a government since president Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the Taliban rolled into Kabul on August 15.

While an informal administration centered around Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has assumed authority in Kabul, the group has made only vague statements about the form of national government it intends to establish.

The delay has been read as a sign that the group was taken by surprise by the speed of its conquest of Afghanistan last month, and that internal power struggles over control of influential ministries have yet to be resolved.

Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme spiritual leader, was reported to have made unspecified decisions about the government following three days of talks behind closed doors.

He is expected to make his first ever public appearance, and may announce the government, in the coming days.

Britain evacuated nearly 15,000 people during Operation Pitting, the emergency airlift from Kabul airport that ended on Sunday.

Hundreds and possibly thousands more were left behind, including military interpreters, female civil society activists, and British dual nationals who are now in hiding in Kabul.

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