Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said preventing women from accessing education in neighboring Afghanistan would be against Islam.
In an interview with the BBC, Khan outlined the conditions that would need to be met for Pakistan to formally recognize the new Taliban government.
He called on leaders to be inclusive and respect human rights.
Khan also said Afghanistan should not be used to harbor terrorists who could threaten Pakistan’s security.
Last week, the Taliban excluded girls from high schools and only boys and teachers were allowed to return. But the Pakistani leader said he believed the girls could attend soon.
“The statements they have made since taking office have been very encouraging,” he told the BBC’s John Simpson.
“I think they will allow women to go to school,” he said. “The idea that women should not be educated is just not Islamic. It has nothing to do with religion.”
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, fears have grown about a return to rule in the 1990s, when die-hard Islamists severely restricted women’s rights.
Its leadership maintains that women’s rights will be respected “within the framework of Islamic law”.
The decision to ban girls from returning to school last week sparked international outcry, with a Taliban spokesman later saying they would return to class “as soon as possible.”
But it is not yet clear when the girls will be able to return or what form of education will be provided if they do.
When asked whether the Taliban would realistically meet its criteria for official recognition, Khan repeatedly called on the international community to give the group more time.
“It is just too early to say anything,” he said, adding that he expected Afghan women to end up “asserting their rights.”
Pakistan is not seen by everyone as a strong ally in the fight against jihadist terrorism. He has long been accused by many in the United States and elsewhere of supporting the Taliban, which he denies.
After the planned 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan positioned itself as an ally of the United States in the so-called “war on terror”. But at the same time, part of the country’s military and intelligence establishment has maintained ties with Islamist groups like the Taliban.
Khan said Pakistan would decide whether it officially recognizes the Taliban government alongside other neighboring states.
“All the neighbors will come together and see how they are progressing,” he said. “Whether or not to recognize them will be a collective decision. “
Concerns about the civil war
Khan also called on the hard-line group to form an inclusive government, warning that failing to do so could slide the country into civil war.
“If they don’t include all the factions, sooner or later they will have a civil war,” he said. “That would mean an unstable, chaotic Afghanistan and a great place for terrorists. That’s a concern.”
On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesperson announced the remaining members of the all-male Afghan government.
The additions included a doctor as health minister, but analysts say the government is mostly loyalists with little minority representation.