Afghan women players in Pakistan
Players from Afghanistan’s women soccer teams have arrived in Pakistan and will seek political asylum in third countries amid concern over the status of female athletes under the new Taliban government in Kabul.
Some 81 people, including female players, their coaches and family members reached Pakistan through the Torkham border crossing, Umar Zia, a senior Pakistan Football Federation official, said on Wednesday. A further 34 will arrive on Thursday, he said.
It was not clear when they actually crossed the border. Officials gave them garlands of red flowers as they stepped off a bus at the Federation's office in Lahore on Wednesday.
They will stay there under tight security before applying for asylum in third countries, Zia said.
“They will go to some other country after 30 days as several international organisations are working towards settling them in any other country, including the UK, US and Australia,” he said.
“We welcome Afghanistan women football team,” Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted, providing no further details.
Pakistan’s The Dawn newspaper on Wednesday reported that the Afghan footballers were issued emergency humanitarian visas following the Taliban takeover.
The Football for Peace international organisation helped to arrange their departure from Afghanistan and arrival in Pakistan.
Their flight is part of a broader exodus of Afghan intellectuals and public figures, especially women, since the Taliban took over the country a month ago.
When the Islamist group last ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, girls were not allowed to attend school and women were banned from work and education. Women were barred from sports and that is likely to continue in this government as well.