Clinton, Karzai reaffirm commitment to Afghan women rights
WASHINGTON (PAN): Following Afghanistan Ulema Council’s guideline concerning women, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned President Hamid Karzai to seek his reassurance on women rights in his country, a Clinton aide said on Friday.
During the conversation, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to women rights in Afghanistan, with Clinton making it clear how important the rights of women in Afghanistan were to them, the State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters in Washington at her daily news conference.
“President Karzai also reaffirmed in very strong terms the protections that women enjoy under the Afghan constitution and his personal commitment to those going forward,” she said.
Issued on Feb. 2, the guideline prohibits women from meeting men in public places like bazaars, offices and educational institutes. It said women, while travelling, must always be accompanied by male guardians.
At a news conference in Kabul, Karzai said: “The Ulema Council, which issues a guideline every month, has in fact supported women in line with Islamic laws.”
“In the context of the decree and some of the public statements that were made afterwards, in her conversation yesterday, Clinton sought reassurance from President Karzai as to where he stands on women’s rights in Afghanistan. And he made clear that the Ulema Council is an advisory body, it doesn’t have force of law and that the force of law in Afghanistan is the Afghan constitution, and it is his personal commitment that he will see it upheld,” Nuland said.
When Clinton expressed her concern over the council during her Thursday telephonic conversation, she was told by Karzai that the force of law in Afghanistan did not come from that body, but from the Afghan constitution.
“And that the judicial bodies of Afghanistan have an obligation to uphold the constitution of Afghanistan and that he is personally committed to that,” added Nuland.
“So that was something that she had sought in terms of a reassurance,” she said in response to a question. “As with so many things in Afghanistan, this is a work in progress in terms of meeting, in practice, the letter and the spirit of the constitutional guarantees that are now available to individual Afghans, but it is not a small thing that the president of the country is making clear his support for those guarantees,” Nuland said.
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