After negotiations with U.S. and other global officials, the Northern Alliance has postponed its plans to stage a takeover of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Pakistan and the United Nations have been urging that the U.S. not support a military offensive by the Northern Alliance to gain Kabul, fearing that the Alliance will assume control of the country and establish its own government. Northern Alliance leaders have reportedly agreed not to carry out an attempt to seize power and will instead participate in the creation of an interim government. Former Afghan king, Mohammed Zahir Shah, will host a supreme council, which may then call a loya jirga, or grand assembly, to establish a Post-Taliban government if the Taliban regime is ousted. The supreme council will be made up of 120 delegates, one of which will be from the Northern Alliance.
Under the current Taliban regime, Afghan women have been subject to a brutal system of gender apartheid. Under this system, women are banned from employment, prohibited from attending school, and are forbidden from leaving their homes without a close male relative and without wearing a head-to-toe burqa shroud. Before the Taliban came to power, women were over 70 percent of the teachers, 40 percent of doctors, the vast majority of health care workers, and over half of the university students. The Feminist Majority has called for the restoration of Afghan women’s rights and for the establishment of constitutional democracy where women have full representation and a voice in the creation of this new government. Eleanor Smeal, Feminist Majority President, cautioned that “The United States would be repeating a tragic mistake if it again turns to another set of extremists as it did to repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and chooses a dictatorship as the most expedient strategy to replace the Taliban. The restoration of a broad-based democracy, representative of both ethnic minorities and women, with women at the table, is necessary to break the back of a terrorist and a war-torn existence. “
To learn more about the Feminist Majority’s Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan and find out how you can help, log on to www.HelpAfghanWomen.com.
Media Resources: Washington Post, 10/11/01; Feminist Majority