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Afghanistan: Taliban Criticizes U.S. Human Rights Report

Islamabad; 28 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- A senior Taliban official said today that U.S. criticism of the militia's human rights record shows an anti-Islam bias.

Taliban deputy foreign minister Abdur Rahman Zahid said the U.S. State Department report was unjustifiable. He also defended the use of public executions and amputations to enforce the Taliban's interpretation of Sharia law, saying that the practice had helped bring order to Afghanistan.

The U.S. report was particularly critical of the Taliban's policies toward women, who are barred from most work and education. The report said Taliban policies represent "perhaps the most severe abuse of women's human rights in the world." But Zahid said foreign countries have no right to object to the Taliban's policies within Afghanistan. United Nations special envoy for Afghanistan Lakhdar Brahimi arrived in Kabul early today for talks with the Taliban leadership ruling the civil war-torn country.

The Islamabad-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) agency reported that the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan, Saeed-ur-Rehman Haqqani, accompanied the U.N. envoy who is scheduled to hold talks with Taliban Foreign Minister Mulla Mohammad Hasan and the head of the Islamic movement's supreme council based in Kabul.

Taliban chief spokesman Wakeel Ahmed however recently said at the movement's headquarters in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, that the Taliban had no fresh proposals to offer to Brahimi.

Observers say Brahimi's agenda in Kabul could range from the U.N. proposal for establishing a broad-based government in Kabul to suggesting a ceasefire.