Pakistan welcomes Afghan women football players and families

Players with coaches and families granted safe passage to Qatar following special permission from prime minister

Players of Afghanistan’s junior national women’s football team have been granted special permission to cross the border into Pakistan for temporary refuge.

Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry took to Twitter and welcomed the players. “We welcome the Afghanistan Women football team, they arrived at Torkham Border from Afghanistan,” he stated.

While commenting on their travel documentation, he said, “The players were in possession of valid Afghan passports and Pakistani visas.”

After the Taliban takeover and announcement about the ban on female sports, many women players tried to flee from the country.

Rocket Foundation, a global charity along with Football for Peace, a UK-based organization, jointly wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan requesting safe passage for the female players of the junior team – who participate in under-14,-16 and -18 matches – along with their coaches and families from Afghanistan to Qatar, reportedly.

Sardar Naveed Haider Khan, the representative of Football for Peace and former vice president of the Pakistan Football Federation received the players in Lahore and ensured that all their paperwork had been done properly.

While exclusively talking to Minute Mirror he said, “A list of 115 members including the families of players and their coaches were sent for the clearance. A total of 81 people have crossed the border last night on a 30-day visit visa after a special permission granted by Prime Minister Imran Khan on humanitarian grounds. The rest of the people will be joining them soon.”

The girls looked happy and relieved as they received a warm welcome at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium.

Thousands of Afghan nationals have already fled the country since the Taliban came into power. During their exit, Kabul airport was targeted multiple times by the Islamic State in which hundreds of people lost their lives.

Taliban has already declared a ban on women’s sports. However, on Tuesday, Bashir Ahmad Rustamzai, Afghanistan’s new director general for Sports, claimed that leaders were still debating the ban and a final decision had yet to come.