The Latest: Afghan women soccer players enter Pakistan

Sep 15, 2021, 1:25 AM | Updated: 1:29 am
Afghans wait in front of a bank branch as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday,...

Afghans wait in front of a bank branch as they try to withdraw money in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

ISLAMABAD— Members of Afghanistan’s women soccer team and their families arrived in Pakistan after fleeing their country in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover, local media said Wednesday.

It was unclear how many Afghan women players and their family members were allowed to enter in Pakistan.

According to Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry, the Afghan women soccer players entered in Pakistan though the northwestern Torkham border crossing holding valid travel documents.

“We welcome Afghanistan women football team,” Chaudhry tweeted, providing no further details.

However, Pakistan’s English-langue The DAWN newspaper Wednesday reported that the Afghan female footballers were issued emergency humanitarian visas following the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The Taliban reportedly don’t want women to participate in sports.

The Taliban has not commented, but an official confirmed that under the government’s interpretation of Islam, women are not allowed to play any sports where they could potentially be exposed. The official was not authorized to speak with media before any official announcement by the government.

Last week, the Taliban announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition. The move seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch foreign ministry says it is evacuating nearly 150 people from Pakistan who fled from Afghanistan.

The Dutch government says Wednesday’s flight will pickup nearly 50 people with Dutch nationality and their Afghan families as well as Afghans who worked closely with the Netherlands in Afghanistan — mainly translators.

The government in The Hague has faced criticism in recent weeks for not acting earlier to evacuate Afghans who worked with the government over the past 20 years.

Many such Afghans fear persecution following the Taliban’s swift march to power.

The charter flight also will pick up nearly 100 other people who will fly on from Amsterdam to other European nations.

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

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UNITED NATIONS — A U.N. official says 4 million Afghans are facing “a food emergency,” with the majority in rural areas where there is a critical need for funding for planting winter wheat, feed for livestock and cash assistance for vulnerable families, elderly and disabled.

The director of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience said Tuesday in a video briefing from Kabul says 70% of Afghans live in rural areas and agriculture is indispensable to the Afghan population.

Rein Paulson says it represents just over 25% of Afghanistan’s GDP, directly employs 45% of the work force, “and most importantly it provides livelihood benefits for fully 80% of the Afghan population.”

He says a severe drought is affecting 7.3 million people in 25 of the country’s 34 provinces and rural communities also have been hurt by the pandemic. He says 4 million Afghans are facing a humanitarian emergency characterized by “extreme gaps in food consumption, very high levels of acute malnutrition and excess mortality.”

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— UN seeks $606 million for Afghanistan after Taliban takeover

— Once inmates, Taliban now in charge in a Kabul prison

— Taliban: Women can study in gender-segregated universities

— Kabul flag shop that started in Soviet era retools yet again

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WASHINGTON — American intelligence officials say al-Qaida could begin to threaten the homeland from Afghanistan within one to two years, echoing warnings that were issued prior to the U.S. withdrawal ending its 20-year war.

Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, who leads the Defense Intelligence Agency, gave that estimated timeframe Tuesday while speaking at the Intelligence & National Security Summit.

David Cohen, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said the U.S. already had detected “some of the indications of some potential movement of al-Qaida to Afghanistan.”

Experts have long said the Taliban still maintains ties to al-Qaida, which took sanctuary in Afghanistan prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Counterterrorism experts estimated prior to the withdrawal that al-Qaida had several hundred fighters in Afghanistan.

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KABUL, Afghanistan — The foreign minister in Afghanistan’s new Taliban-run Cabinet says the government remains committed to its promises not to allow militants to use its territory to attack others.

In his first press conference since the Taliban formed an interim government a week ago, Amir Khan Mutaqi on Tuesday would not give a timeframe for how long the government would be in place or whether it would eventually be opened up to other factions, minorities or women.

When asked about the possibility of elections, Mutaqi demanded other countries not interfere in Afghanistan’s internal issues.

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ROME — Italian Premier Mario Draghi says how Europe treats refugees from Afghanistan will test the continent’s integration process.

In remarks Tuesday to an interfaith gathering in Bologna of participants from the Group of 20 made up of representatives of industrial and emerging-market nations, Draghi referred those who recently fled Afghanistan.

“The European Union must not ignore the drama of these persons, nor the historic dimension of these events,” he said.

The European Union for years “has been incapable of building a common approach on the migratory theme, and in particular on the distribution of who arrives and seeks asylum,” the Italian leader said.

Italy, where hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers have arrived via traffickers’ boats launched from Libya, has largely lobbied its EU partners in vain for years to take in many of the migrants.

Some EU countries have indicated they wouldn’t accept Afghans who flee their homeland beyond those they evacuated in the final days of the U.S. military presence in Kabul.

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister and Russian President Vladimir Putin have discussed the latest situation in neighboring Afghanistan in a phone call.

Imran Khan, who received the call Tuesday from Putin, also exchanged views about bilateral cooperation and collaboration in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. That’s a security pact dominated by Russia and China that also includes the ex-Soviet Central Asian countries.

According to a government statement, Khan “underscored the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan for regional security and prosperity.”

It said Khan emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and the imperative of averting an economic crisis. The statement said Khan also underlined the need for the international community to remain engaged in Afghanistan.

It said Khan stressed that close coordination and consultations between Pakistan and Russia on the evolving situation in Afghanistan were of crucial importance.

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The Latest: Afghan women soccer players enter Pakistan