ISLAMABAD – The radical Afghan Taliban reacted angrily to a rare fashion show recently held in Kabul, where young girls and boys, mostly in Western clothes, took to the ramp.
In a comment posted on its official website, the Islamist insurgent group condemned last week’s event as a demonstration of an obscene Western culture that has trampled on all religious and Afghan values.
Fashion shows are not uncommon in this war-torn country, but they have always featured male and female models in loosely fitted traditional Afghan dresses. The Taliban declaration pledged to uphold all religious and national cultural values.
The aspirations of supporters and viewers of the model show will be destroyed, God willing, he warned.
The organizers of the private Saturday show said there were plans to select Mr. and Miss Afghanistan 2020 from a group of 60 participants.
Young people should be trained and introduced to the world of modeling, as well as the television and film industry in Afghanistan, Afrasiab Arabzada, an organizer of the show, told local television station TOLO.
The Taliban introduced a harsh Islamic system of governance to the country during its five-year rule from 1996 to 2001. The group banned music and banned girls from receiving education and women from working outside. .
The fashion show controversy comes as the Taliban and Afghan government officials are due to resume peace talks in Qatar on January 5, after a three-week hiatus.
The two warring Afghan camps, however, announced before suspending the process on December 14 that they had agreed on the rules of conduct for future negotiations.
Members of Kabuls’ negotiating team have since been quoted by Afghan media as saying that the Taliban’s ideology and views have not changed.
The Taliban hold the same views they had 25 years ago about women, music, the arts, elections, free speech and human rights, according to a recent TOLO TV report citing anonymous government negotiators.
The Taliban deny opposing girls’ education or intending to undermine women’s rights.
The so-called intra-Afghan peace talks are a crucial outcome of the deal the United States signed with the Taliban in February this year, aimed at ending nearly two decades of war.
The Taliban have vowed to reduce violence and negotiate a political power-sharing deal with Kabul to end four decades of hostilities in Afghanistan. The Taliban are also required under the agreement to fight terrorism on Afghan soil and to renounce their links with Al-Qaida.
In return, all US and Allied troops are to leave the country by May 2021. In recent days, however, Afghan and US officials have criticized a sustained surge in insurgent violence as a threat to the peace process.
Senior Afghan security officials told the Afghan Senate on Tuesday that the Taliban had launched more than 18,000 attacks, including suicide bombings and targeted assassinations, in the past 10 months.
They also accused the insurgents of being behind a series of attacks that have targeted and killed high-level civil society activists, journalists and government officials in recent weeks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the allegations as enemy propaganda to slander his group.
He told VOA that the number of insurgent attacks in 2020 was the lowest since the start of the war.
Unlike in the past, we have not carried out major attacks and bombings in (Afghan) cities, including Kabul, in the coming year, Mujahid said. However, in the areas where the fighting is taking place, we are only defending against enemy aggression or taking defensive measures to prevent them from establishing bases in our (Taliban) areas.
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