Separate classrooms for men and women in Afghanistan: Taliban

News Network
September 12, 2021

Kabul, Sept 12: The higher education minister in the new Taliban government says women will study in universities, including at post-graduate levels, but that classrooms will be gender-segregated and that Islamic dress is compulsory.

The minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, laid out the new policies at a news conference Sunday, several days after Afghanistan's new rulers formed a Taliban government.

Haqqani said female university students would be required to wear a hijab but did not elaborate on whether this only meant a compulsory headscarf or also mandatory face coverings. 

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News Network
September 6,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 6: Schools reopened for students of classes 6 to 8 in Karnataka on Monday, by following strict COVID-19 protocols and standard operating procedures (SOP). 

As per government directions, schools have been reopened in taluks where COVID-19 positivity rate is below 2 per cent. 

Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said that the government decided to reopen schools after approval from the state's technical advisory committee on COVID-19. 

"The department had an intention of reopening schools for some time now and teachers were also ready for it, but keeping in mind the health of the students along with education and concerns of the parents, we discussed with the technical advisory committee and after taking the opinion of expert paediatricians, we are reopening schools for classes 6,7 and 8," he told reporters. 

The Minister said, many parents and students had urged him during his recent visits to several parts of the state to reopen schools. He said the entire government machinery and district administrations have been working together with the department for the safe conduct of classes. 

It is mandatory for students to submit a consent letter from their parents to attend offline classes and these classes are not compulsory, as there is a provision of online classes also. 

The government has said that offline classes for students of class 6-8 will be held on alternate days, each with 50 per cent attendance, it will be five days a week, and the remaining two days (weekend) will be used for sanitizing and other COVID control measures. In response to a question, the Minister said, looking at how offline classes will go on, the government after consulting the technical advisory committee will take a decision on reopening schools for class 1 to 5, but did not specify any timeline. 

The government had already allowed the reopening of schools for students from classes 9 to 12 since August 23. 

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News Network
September 3,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 3: The government of Karnataka has decided to hold a low-key Mysuru Dasara celebrations with a ban on street celebrations in view of Covid situation.

"How the Mysuru Dasara celebrations were held last year, this year too, it should be celebrated as such. This has been announced by the chief minister in the meeting," Mysuru district-incharge minister ST Somashekhar told reporters here on Friday.

On October 7, Dasara celebrations will be inaugurated at Chamundi Hills and chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has been given the power to decide on who should inaugurate the event, he said.

"At an appropriate time, the chief minister announced the guest who would inaugurate the celebration at Chamundi Hills. The inauguration event will be conducted between 8.15 am to 8.45 am," Somashekhar said.

Public entry has been banned, he said. Every year, Dasara attracts a huge number of tourists from all over the world to the heritage city.

He said the jumbo ride will be conducted on Mysuru Palace premises, between 2.45 pm to 3.15 pm, he said.

Somashekhar said the state government has paid the 2019 Dasara festival's Rs 8.09-crore arrears.

For this year's Dasara to be held in Mysuru, Srirangapatna and Chamrajnagar, the government has sanctioned Rs 6 crore, he said.

Mysuru Dasara is a grand 10-day spectacle that culminates on the day of Vijayadashami.

Scientists and other experts have predicted a possibility of a third wave hitting Karnataka in the last week of September or October and as such they are against mass gatherings that have potential to be super-spreaders.

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News Network
September 15,2021

New Delhi, Sept 15: After its recent withdrawal from the Afghanistan, the United States has hinted that it has been in talks with the government of India for using airfields in India as “staging areas” for carrying out aerial surveillance and launching attacks on terrorists in Pak-Afghan region.

President Joe Biden’s administration is “deeply engaged” with New Delhi, the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said, testifying before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives – the lower house of the American Congress.

He was responding to Republican Party’s Representative Mark E Green, who asked if the Biden Administration had reached out to New Delhi for using “over-the-horizon” capabilities from “staging areas” in north-west India for neutralising potential threats to the United States in and around Afghanistan, in view of the collusion between the Taliban and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan.

 “We are deeply engaged with India across the board,” Blinken replied to Green.

He, however, did not share the details of the discussion between the two governments on the US launching drones from India for keeping watch on terrorist infrastructures in Afghanistan.

“With regard to any specifics about over-the-horizon capabilities and the plans we put in place or continue to put in place, I would rather take that up in a different setting,” Blinken replied to Green.

The Taliban of late returned to power in Afghanistan through a swift military campaign across the country taking advantage of the withdrawal of the US troops.

Biden and other senior officials of his administration in Washington DC repeatedly stated over the past few weeks that the US had sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and to neutralise the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda – the objectives, which had been achieved over the past two decades.

Though terrorism continued to remain a threat and spread around the world, the US no longer required to deploy a large number of soldiers overseas to combat the menace as it had now developed the “over-the-horizon” capabilities of carrying out aerial surveillance and launch drones to eliminate such threats, they argued, justifying the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

But what may limit the US' capabilities of launching drone attacks on the terrorists and terror infrastructures in the region is the fact that some of the airbases it had earlier used for the purpose are no longer available to it after its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The nearest airbases the US can use are in Qatar, Kuwait and other countries in the Gulf and far away from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region where the targets may be located – a fact Green pointed out while asking Blinken about the Biden Administration’s discussion with New Delhi.

New Delhi did not officially make any comment on Green’s query or the reply given by Blinken.

The Commander of the US Special Operations Command, General Richard D Clarke, had visited New Delhi in July and held a meeting with the Indian Army chief Gen M M Naravane.

Admiral John C Aquilino, Commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, also visited New Delhi and held a meeting with Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, just about 10 days after the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan.

India is a “major defence partner” of the US and the two nations had inked a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, creating a framework to support each other's aircraft, ships and personnel with logistics, fuel and spares.

They also signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018 and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020 to enable the exchange of geospatial information between the two countries. 

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