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Afghan women footballers arrive in Pakistan, escaping Taliban threat

Thirty-two Afghan women footballers and their family members have arrived in Pakistan by way of an overland route, officials said on Wednesday, as an exodus of Afghan public figures continues after the Taliban took power last month.

Thirty-two Afghan women footballers and their family members have arrived in Pakistan by way of an overland route, officials said on Wednesday, as an exodus of Afghan public figures continues after the Taliban took power last month.

Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chuadhry said they crossed the Torkham border in north-western Pakistan late Tuesday with the proper travel documents and visas.

More than 100 people, including the 32 footballers who were facing threats from the Islamist Taliban government, made the journey.

The ultraconservative Taliban have pledged to respect women’s rights within the limits of its interpretation of Islam, but it remains murky how women and girls will fare with the militants in control.

It is largely unclear whether women in Afghanistan will be able to continue to pursue their professions. There have only been concrete statements of support for women in the health and education sectors.

There have been reports of the Taliban forbidding women to participate in sports where their bodies might be seen.

The footballers belonging to the national junior girls team were left out of a chaotic airlift after an Islamic State bombing targeting people awaiting evacuation from Kabul last month.

“They would be travelling and staying in Lahore till they proceed further,” said Amir Dogar, a vice president of Pakistan’s football federation.

The footballers are ultimately expected to travel on to Doha.

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