U.S. lawmakers grilled President Joe Biden's Afghanistan peace envoy on Tuesday about how women will be protected if the hard-line Islamist Taliban take control after U.S. troops withdraw, and threatened to withhold funding if rights gains are reversed.
The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan says Washington intends to protect human rights there even after a planned complete military withdrawal later this year.
Zalmay Khalilzad testified to Congress on Tuesday.
"We intend to maintain our embassy and will continue to provide development assistance, promote economic investment and advocate to preserve the gains for minorities, and for women, including the meaningful participation in the ongoing negotiations and their appropriate representation throughout society." President Joe Biden announced earlier this month that the U.S. would withdraw its military out of Afghanistan by September 11, 20 years after the 9/11 attacks that sent the country to war.
But on Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed concern over that move, particularly for women’s rights if turmoil breaks out as a result.
Republican Senator Ron Johnson is a member of the committee and argued women would be most vulnerable in a civil war, if one were to break out.
"What can you say publicly in terms of what the predictions are in terms of Taliban treatment of women, should they take over the government again?
I know personally, I'm concerned about public executions and other forms of brutality that will just be so incredibly offensive.
And if that's the case, what do we do?” When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s, women were barred from much of public society, like education, work, or showing parts their bodies.
"Moral offenses" were punished by flogging and stoning.
The Biden administration has pledged to continue providing aid to Afghanistan, even after its departure.
But, has also threatened to make an enemy out of Afghanistan if the country did not protect human rights.