Numerous threats from a suspected Taliban commander who opposed women working as broadcasters drove a private radio station in Afghanistan to shut down, officials from the media outlet revealed on Monday.
The revelation came amid peace negotiations between the United States and the Taliban that include discussions on women’s rights.
The private radio station, Samaa, has been broadcasting political, religious, social and entertainment programs in the central province of Ghazni since 2013.
Its 13 employees, including three women presenters, broadcast in Afghanistan’s two main languages – Dari and Pashto.
The radio station’s director, Ramez Azimi, said Taliban commanders in the area had sent written warnings and telephoned in, to tell the radio station to stop employing women.
“The Taliban also came to my house and issued a threat,” Azimi told Reuters. He said the threats forced him to suspend the announcers.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, reportedly denied that the narco-terrorists had issued any threats.
Reuters acknowledged that the Taliban controls several districts in Ghazni province.
According to the latest U.S. government assessment, the Taliban controls or contests about half of Afghanistan, where more than 35 percent of the population lives.
The Taliban ruled the vast majority of Afghanistan from 1996 until U.S. troops ousted their regime in late 2001. Under their sharia-compliant rule, the terrorists prohibited women from working or going to school.
Amid intensified peace negotiations with the United States, the terrorist group is projecting itself as a more moderate force, vowing to respect women’s rights and permit them to work and go to school. However, the group has repeatedly said they are fighting to reimpose a sharia-compliant Islamic emirate.
The group’s efforts to project a softer and more tolerant image of itself come as the pace of peace negotiations gains momentum.
In the wake of the latest round of peace talks, which included members of the Afghan government negotiating in a personal capacity, the Taliban agreed to protect women’s rights “within the Islamic framework of Islamic values.”
After the most recent talks, which began late last month and carried into the beginning of July, the New York Times reported:
Many Afghan women seized on the freedoms that emerged after the American invasion and collapse of the Taliban government in 2001. They do not want to go back to the terms of Taliban rule — to the floggings and banishment from public life.But as some sort of agreement between the Taliban and American officials appears likely, many women do not believe the insurgents’ promises to respect the rights of women this time around.
The latest talks marked the seventh round of negotiations with the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has intensified peace talks, making the political reconciliation between the Taliban and Kabul the primary goal of its strategy to end the war.
Taliban jihadis, however, still refuse to directly negotiate with the Afghan government, claiming they will only do so after negotiators agree on a timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
The Trump administration hopes to have a peace agreement by September 1. Taliban jihadis have refused to agree to a ceasefire and have stepped up deadly attacks during the negotiations.