The newly appointed chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) Mirwais Ashraf announced that Afghan women can continue playing cricket.
The new chairman made these remarks during his introductory meeting with the ACB staff and managers. According to reports, Ashraf shared that for Afghanistan to remain a part of the International Cricket Council, the country is required to allow its women to play cricket.
Ashraf said, “Women’s cricket is one of the major requirements of the ICC, therefore, it is committed to obtaining it”.
He added, “Our girls will play cricket on a normal basis. We will also provide them with basic needs and facilities”.
It must be noted that the Taliban’s hardline stance against women participating in sports triggered international concern. Following the takeover by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the deputy head of the Taliban’s cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, had said that women’s sport is neither appropriate nor necessary.
He remarked, “I don’t think women play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” Wasiq added, “In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this”.
Female athletes flee Afghanistan
As a consequence of the Taliban coming into power, many female athletes left the country. Previously a group of 77 Afghan athletes including members of the Afghanistan women’s national football team and their family members left Kabul airport on a plane bound for Australia.
Members from Afghanistan’s national women’s football team also sought Pakistan’s help as they wrote a letter to PM Imran Khan to provide the players and their families temporary visas on an urgent basis.
The letter stated, “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”.
Pakistan responded and granted the players sanctuary. The information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the players entered Pakistan through the Northwestern Torkham border on emergency humanitarian visas.
Pakistan’s decision to help female Afghan athletes resulted in a lot of appreciation for the country. Pakistan’s approach improved its soft image and confirmed that Pakistan supports a peaceful Afghanistan and condemns acts of violence and repressiveness.
Associate director of the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, Heather Barr said, “It is wonderful news if Pakistan agreed to grant entry to Afghanistan’s women’s football team.”
ACB allowing women to continue playing cricket is a welcoming development amid the country’s restrictions on women.