As U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, lawmakers fear dark future for women

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.

“I don’t believe under any circumstances that the United States Senate will support assistance for Afghanistan, especially under the World Bank’s program which provides budget support, if the Taliban has taken a governing role that ends civil society advances and rolls back women’s rights,” said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez.

Zalmay Khalilzad, special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, testified at the committee’s first public hearing on Afghanistan policy since Biden announced plans to withdraw troops by Sept. 11 after two decades of war.

When Biden made his announcement on April 14, he said Washington would continue providing assistance to Afghan security forces and civilian programs, including those for women and girls.