‘Against culture’, women’s cricket match stopped near Malala Yousafzai’s hometown

After locals in Charbagh opposed to women playing cricket in an open area as it is against cultural traditions, authorities stopped the match.

'Against culture', local leaders in Charbagh, Swat Valley stop women's cricket match near Malala Yousafzai's hometown in Pakistan

Even as Pakistan welcome the world to play cricket in the nation, the local bodies don’t share the same thought for women’s cricket. In Pakistan’s Swat region, where Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was shot, local leaders stopped women from playing cricket, citing “security concerns”. It was after locals in Charbagh opposed the match, saying playing in an open area “goes against cultural traditions”.

As the news hit national headlines in Pakistan, Tehsil Nazim Ehsanullah told news outlets that the match was stopped to ensure safety. He said that women must play cricket if they want to within enclosed areas.

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Furthermore, he criticised the organisers for not informing relevant authorities that a women’s cricket match was taking place. Following that incident, the organisers have promised to reschedule the matches with permission from Assistant Commissioner Charbhagh Mohammad Yar.

Security Concerns in Women’s Cricket

Madrassa Administrator Mufti Rafiullah, however, said that the intentions were only well-being of the players. He said that the match was stopped to prevent any law & order situation with armed groups patrolling the area.

“After discussions with the management and the organiser, the decision to stop the match was made with mutual understanding. Women are an integral part of society, and I support granting them full rights,” Rafiullah told Geo News, Pakistan.

Further, he added that women are “free” to play sports but within the boundaries of Islamic law.

Afghanistan Women’s Cricket Team was disbanded following Taliban takeover of Afghan govt in 2021

Taliban influence

Swat Valley near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was ruled by the Pakistani Taliban. They banned women’s education, music, movies and television in accordance with Sharia law. With the Taliban government returning to power in Afghanistan, their influence has begun to grow again in neighbouring areas.

In 2012, just 13 kilometres from Charbagh, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was shot by Talibani leaders when she was just 15. She was returning from school after an exam. The women’s education activist later relocated to the UK.

However, women’s rights continue to be an issue in the region with Talibani’s influence ever-growing.

Back in Afghanistan, where the Taliban overthrew a democratic government, the Afghanistan women’s cricket team was disbanded. Since the Taliban takeover in 2021, Afghan women cricketers have been in exile or have quit playing any sport. While most of the team have reunited in Australia, they are not endorsed by the Afghanistan Cricket Board.

After the takeover, Australia cancelled the only Test against Afghanistan Men’s Cricket Team in Australia as a protest. Women continue to be banned from playing any sport in Afghanistan and with Taliban influence in the Swat Valley, the concerns grow.

However, the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team continues to participate in bilateral and ICC events. After an exhibition Women’s Pakistan Super League tournament, the Pakistan Cricket Board is hopeful of forming Women’s PSL in near future.

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