Taliban to hold grand council to chart Afghan progress

Kabul – Hundreds of religious leaders and “people of influence” from around Afghanistan have been summoned to the capital to attend a three-day grand council in support of the country’s Taliban rule.
Officials are providing scant details of the men-only meeting starting Wednesday, a week after a powerful earthquake struck the east of the country killing over 1,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. A Taliban source told AFP that criticism of the regime would be allowed and thorny issues such as the education of girls, which has divided opinion in the movement, would be discussed. “The meeting will seek views of scholars on the performance of the Islamic Emirate,” a Taliban source told AFP, referring to the group’s name for the country.
“The participants will be allowed to point out anything which has dented the IEA image — they can even make complaints.”
The meeting is described locally as a “jirga”, a traditional gathering of influential people that discuss problems and settle differences by consensus.
Even before the quake, the Taliban were struggling to administer a country that had long been in the grip of economic malaise, utterly dependent on foreign aid that dried up with the overthrow of the Western-backed government in August.

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