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Thursday April 18th, 2024

Amid sex slavery claims Pakistan envoy tells Sri Lanka: Taliban pledged to protect women’s rights

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry quoting Pakistan envoy Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak said Taliban has pledged to protect women’s rights amid reports that girls above 15 and widows below 45 years had been demanded as ‘wives’ for Taliban fighters.

The statement came following a meeting with Sri Lanka Foreign Minister G L Pieris Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Major General Muhammad Saad Khattak.

“The Pakistan High Commissioner briefed him (Sri Lanka foreign minister) on the situation in Afghanistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“He emphasized that the Taliban has assured the safety of foreign nationals in Afghanistan and has also made a pledge that rights of women and children would be protected.”

Media reports however said the Taliban was beginning its assault against women as it took territory.

“In early July, as Taliban fighters were seizing territory from government forces across Afghanistan, some of them walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in Kandahar and ordered nine women working there to leave,” Qatar based Al Jazeera reported.

“The gunmen escorted them to their homes and told them not to return to their jobs. Instead, they explained that male relatives could take their place…”

Other reports said Taliban are demanding girls aged above 15 and 12 in some cases, and widows below 45 years as ‘wives’ from village leaders which amounted sex slavery.

“Now the Taliban are going door-to-door in some areas, compiling lists of women and girls aged between 12 and 45 years for their fighters to forcibly marry,” US-based Bloomberg Newswires said in a commentary.

“Women are again being told they cannot leave the house without a male escort, they cannot work, study or dress as they please. Schools and colleges are being shut and businesses destroyed. The exodus of those who can afford to flee the country is growing by the day.”

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry has already welcomed pledges given by the Taliban which had previously flogged women in public for being teachers, beheaded alleged criminals and banned girls from schools and cut off ears of anyone who listened to music.

The Taliban group notoriously bombed and destroyed the 6th century Bamiyan Buddha statues in March 2001 when they controlled the land-locked nation from 1996 till about the end of 2001.

The group had earned universal condemnation for reducing the imposing Buddha statues to rubble in an act regarded as a crime against humanity.

Pakistan hoped that Afghanistan would soon establish a peaceful government structure and integrate with the rest of the world and had also pledged to assist Sri Lanka in bringing back nationals.

“Minister Peiris also sought assistance from the Government of Pakistan to evacuate Sri Lankan nationals from Afghanistan, to which High Commissioner Khattak responded by assuring that the fullest support would be extended by his government in that context,” the ministry said.

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Sri Lanka’s discussions with bondholders constructive: State finance minister

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan authorities continue to engage all debt restructuring negotiations in good faith, within principles of equitable treatment among creditors, and with maximum transparency within the norms of such negotiations, State Minister of Finance, Shehan Semasinghe has said.

“It is standard practice, when a representative group of bondholders is formed, to entertain confidential discussions with such group and its appointed advisors. In the case of Sri Lanka, the Ad Hoc Group of Bondholders represents holders controlling more than 50% of the bonds, which make them a privileged interlocutor for Sri Lanka,” Semasinghe said on X (twitter).

“It is well understood that given the price sensitive nature of the negotiations, and according to market regulations, discussions with the Group and its advisors are to be conducted under non-disclosure agreements. This evidently restricts the ability of the Government to unilaterally report about the substance of the discussions.

“The cleansing statement, which was issued on the 16th of April, at the conclusion of this first round of confidential discussions with members of the Group, aims at informing the Sri Lankan people, market participants and other stakeholders to this debt restructuring exercise, about the progress in negotiations. It provides the highest possible level of transparency within the internationally accepted practices in such circumstances.

“As informed in this statement, confidential discussions held in recent weeks with bondholders’ representatives proved constructive, building on the restructuring proposals presented by both parties. During the talks both sides successfully bridged a number of technical issues enabling important progress to be made. Sri Lanka articulated key remaining concerns that need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

“The next steps would entail further consultation with the IMF staff regarding assessments of the compatibility of the latest proposals with program parameters. Following these consultations, we hope to continue discussions with the bondholders with a view to reaching common ground ahead of the IMF board consideration of the second review of Sri Lanka’s EFF program.”

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Sri Lanka rupee weakens at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s rupee closed at 301.00/302.05 to the US dollar in the spot forex market on Tuesday, from 299.00/10 on Tuesday, dealers said. Bond yields were broadly steady.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2026 closed stable at 11.30/35 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.09.2027 closed at 11.90/12.05 percent up from 11.95/12.00 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.12.2028 closed at 12.10/20 percent down from 12.10/15 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.07.2029 closed at 12.25/40 percent.

A bond maturing on 15.03.2031 closed at 12.30/50 percent. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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Sri Lanka Treasury Bill yields down across maturities

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Treasuries yields were down across maturities at Wednesday’s auction with the 3-month yield moving down 7 basis points to 10.03 percent, data from the state debt office showed.

The debt office sold all 30 billion rupees of 3-month bills offered.

The 6-month yield fell 5 basis points to 10.22 percent, with 25 billion rupees of bills offered and 29.98 billion rupees sold.

The 12-month yield dropped 4 basis points to 10.23 percent with 18.01 billion rupees of bills sold after offering 23 billion rupees. (Colombo/Apr17/2024)

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