After receiving backlash from the Pashtun community in Pakistan and Afghanistan for relating restrictions by the Afghan government on women with the Pashtun culture, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations Munir Akram issued a clarification for his remarks.
Ambassador Akram made the comments at the humanitarian briefing on Afghanistan at the UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday.
“The restrictions that have been put by the Afghan interim government flow not so much from a religious perspective as from a peculiar cultural perspective of the Pashtun culture, which requires women to be kept at home,” he had said at the UN briefing.
“And this is a peculiar, distinctive cultural reality of Afghanistan which has not changed for hundreds of years,” said Ambassador Akram.
The envoy explained that his comments were referring to a “peculiar perspective” of a small minority that has resulted in restrictions on women and not the Pashtun culture.
Akram said that he regrets if his remarks were misunderstood or hurt anyone’s feelings. “There was no disrespect meant to the Pashtun culture which is highly progressive and deserves full respect all across the world,” he explained.
He said that the point made by him was that these “restrictions are not consistent with Islam and the Sharia – which provides all rights to women, including to work and education.”
He underlined that Pakistan, consistent with its policy, has conveyed its opposition to the restrictions on women to the Afghan interim government.
He also urged the international community to engage with and patiently persuade the Afghanistan government to lift these restrictions, and continue its humanitarian assistance to the Taliban-led country which is critical for the survival of the impoverished people of Afghanistan.