Pakistan: Residents, clerics bar girls from playing cricket in Swat
Residents and clerics in Pakistan's Swat region have barred women from playing cricket in a local stadium as they believe the participation of women in sports was considered “immodest” and “inappropriate” in the region.
The incident happened when Ayesha Ayaz, Pakistan’s youngest taekwondo athlete, arranged a cricket match at the Charbagh Cricket Stadium today for girls from the Babuzai and Kabal tehsil of Swat.
Several clerics from nearby mosques and a group of elders reached the venue and stopped the girls from playing before the start of the match.
“When the girls gathered at the stadium, some religious people came and angrily forbade the girls and organisers from playing cricket,” Saeed Iqbal, an eye witness, told Dawn News.
He added that the men yelled at the girls and said it was immodest for them to play cricket in an open ground.
Iqbal added that the clerics later reached out to the local councilor, Ihsanullah Kaki, who then asked the girls to vacate the stadium.
Ayaz Naik, one of the organisers, told Dawn News girls in Swat wanted to play cricket professionally.
“They reached out to us recently and asked us to organise cricket matches for them in the district. They wanted us to form district-level crickets teams as well.”
He added that his daughter Ayesha and other professional cricket players organised a match in Charbagh today as construction work was under way at the stadium in Mingora, which is located at a 12km distance from Charbagh.
Ihsanullah Kaki, the tehsil chairman of Charbagh, said the girls were barred from playing the game due to security reasons.
“The security conditions within Charbagh tehsil are currently unstable due to the presence of individuals and suspected firearms, who are often spotted in various locations.
“These individuals also send messages to local residents, demanding money and issuing threats. Those residing near the cricket ground are hesitant to venture outside their homes at night as they fear the presence of militants,” he told Dawn News.