Saturday September 18, 2021

Pakistan welcomes Afghan women football team

September 15, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has said it will allow dozens of young players from the Afghan Girls National Youth Football Team currently trapped in hiding in Afghanistan to enter the country.

A letter from the embassy of Pakistan, seen by The Independent, says it will grant temporary visas to the 32 girls who are stranded in the neighbouring country. The Independent understands the girls are in a group of around 80 people in total which also includes their relatives and football coaches.

Campaigners said it is not yet clear if the family members and football staff would also be given visas to enter Pakistan but it is highly unlikely the girls will be granted access to the country without them.

It comes after The Independent recently revealed 32 girls are stranded in Afghanistan - after seeing a letter which asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to urgently help. The letter urged PM Imran Khan to give the girls and their families temporary visas to enable them to enter Pakistan, warning “time is running out” and the girls are at risk of “grave threats” from the Taliban and “disintegrating security”.

While campaigners told The Independent the young women, many of whom are in their teens, are hiding in places as reports surface of the Taliban searching hotels in a bid to track them down.

“These teenage and young female athletes are at immediate risk because of their association with women’s football in Afghanistan and their participation in national public football tournaments,” states the letter, which was signed by Kashif Siddiqi, a London-born footballer who played for Pakistan’s international team and who co-founded an NGO called Football for Peace. Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry Tuesday tweeted, “We welcome the Afghanistan women football team who arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan.