Refusal to any sort of girls education is in the core of the Taliban’s values in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well (see – Inner-Conflict). When the TalIban ruled Afghanistan girls were banned from going to school and women were only allowed to leave their homes with a male relative as an escort. Girls are constantly abused and under pressure not to go to schools, schools for girls are repeatedly bombed or burned down wherever the Taliban is in control (see – Mingora Schools ).

Afghan intelligence, on Wednesday 06/06/2012, accused Pakistani spies of poisoning schoolgirls as authorities battle to halt a string of alleged attacks that have sown panic in parts of the North.

At least 15 suspects have been detained over mysterious illnesses, which usually include mass fainting episodes, that have struck scores of schoolgirls in Takhar province almost daily for the past two weeks.

“The regional spy agencies, namely ISI, are behind it. They are trying to sabotage the Shanghai Conference and the success of Afghan education,” National Directorate of Security spokesman Lutfullah Mashal told reporters. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are attending this week’s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Beijing as observers.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency is widely reviled in Afghanistan, where it is accused of fomenting the Taliban insurgency due to its historic links to the Islamist Afghan militia that ruled from 1996 to 2001 (see – I.S.I Involvement ).

A teacher and three female students are among those arrested and all 15 have confessed to being involved in poisoning, Mashal said. But the ISI dismissed the Afghan accusations as “absurd and senseless”.

“This is an attempt to strain ties between the two countries. Pakistan wants peace and stability in Afghanistan. A peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in our interest,” a Pakistani intelligence official told AFP. Afghan officials regularly accuse Taliban insurgents, who banned schooling for girls while in power from 1996 to 2001, of poisoning school wells or using “gas” or “toxic powder” against the girls.

None have died, however, and no traces of poison have been found in blood samples, officials say. Experts suggest that a phenomenon known as mass hysteria — against a background of conflict — could be responsible.

The Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has denied any involvement and said any culprits would be punished “according to the Islamic Law”.


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