LAHORE, Pakistan – Players from Afghanistan’s women’s youth football teams have arrived in Pakistan and will seek political asylum in third countries amid concerns over the condition of female athletes under the new Taliban regime in Kabul.
Umar Zia, a senior official of the Pakistan Football Federation, said on Wednesday that around 81 people, including female players from several youth teams, their coaches and family members, reached Pakistan from across the Torkham border. Another 34 will arrive on Thursday, he said.
It was not clear when they actually crossed the border. On Wednesday, officials gave him a garland of red flowers as he got off the bus at the Federation’s office in Lahore.
Zia told Reuters he would be under tight security in third countries before applying for asylum there.
“They will move to another country after 30 days as many international organizations are working towards resettling them in another country including UK, US and Australia,” he said.
The Football for Peace International organization helped arrange his departure from Afghanistan and arrival in Pakistan.
Their flight is part of a wider exodus of Afghan intellectuals and public figures, especially women, since the Taliban took over the country a month ago.
When Islamic militants last ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, girls were not allowed to go to school and women were banned from work and education. Women were banned from sports and this is likely to continue in this government as well.
A Taliban representative told Australian broadcaster SBS on 8 September that he did not think women would be allowed to play cricket because it was “not necessary” and would be against Islam.
“Islam and Islamic emirates do not allow women to play cricket or play sports where they are exposed,” SBS quoted Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, as saying.
Several former and current women’s football players fled the country following the Taliban takeover, while a former team captain still in Afghanistan urged players to burn their sports gear and delete their social media accounts to avoid retaliation. .
The sport’s governing body FIFA said last month that it was working to evacuate survivors in the country.
By Charlotte Greenfield and Mubasher Bukhari
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times