Afghan women work at saffron processing factory in Herat city

Afghan women work at a saffron processing factory in Herat city, western Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2020. Afghanistan’s Ministry for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock predicts that the country could harvest 24 tons of saffron this year as more lands have been cultivated with the valuable plant, a local official said on Thursday. (Photo by Elaha Sahel/Xinhua)

 

Afghan women work at a saffron processing factory in Herat city, western Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2020. Afghanistan’s Ministry for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock predicts that the country could harvest 24 tons of saffron this year as more lands have been cultivated with the valuable plant, a local official said on Thursday. (Photo by Elaha Sahel/Xinhua)

 

Afghan women work at a saffron processing factory in Herat city, western Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2020. Afghanistan’s Ministry for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock predicts that the country could harvest 24 tons of saffron this year as more lands have been cultivated with the valuable plant, a local official said on Thursday. (Photo by Elaha Sahel/Xinhua)

 

Afghan women work at a saffron processing factory in Herat city, western Afghanistan, Nov. 4, 2020. Afghanistan’s Ministry for Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock predicts that the country could harvest 24 tons of saffron this year as more lands have been cultivated with the valuable plant, a local official said on Thursday. (Photo by Elaha Sahel/Xinhua)

 

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Several elderly women killed in Afghan stampede

A video of the stampede circulating on social media showed two bodies fallen on the ground among the milling crowds. Photographs taken by local media showed thousands of people cramming into the stadium with passports and documents in their hands.

Pakistan began issuing visas last week after an eight month hiatus due to covid-19 related restrictions.

People started gathering at the stadium early in the morning after local officials instructed visa applicants to obtain tokens there, said Mohammad Ajmal Omar, a member of Nangahar provincial council.

Omar said the death of the elderly women “dishonored all Afghans,” and he blamed the “incompetent government” for the incident.

Most Afghans visit Pakistan for medical treatment or to see relatives. The border crossing in Nangahar is heavily trafficked in normal times, and thousands of people have been waiting months to cross.

The provincial governor’s office said the decision to invite thousands to the stadium was made to prevent them from massing in front of Pakistan’s consulate. Statement from the office said hundreds of male and female police officers were assigned to provide security and maintain order.

“Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people came to the soccer stadium this morning, which led to this unfortunate incident,” the statement added.

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At Least 11 Afghan Women Killed In Stampede Near Pakistan Consulate

At least 11 women were killed Wednesday in a stampede in an Afghan football stadium where thousands had gathered to apply for visas at a nearby Pakistan consulate, officials said.

Many people were trampled at the stadium in the city of Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, with 10 women and three men injured, provincial governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told reporters.

Provincial hospital spokesman Zaher Adel also confirmed the death toll.

Relatives carry the coffin of a victim, who was killed in a stampede, outside a mortuary in Jalalabad on October 21, 2020 Relatives carry the coffin of a victim, who was killed in a stampede, outside a mortuary in Jalalabad on October 21, 2020 Photo: AFP / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA

Nangarhar provincial council member Naser Kamawal gave a higher toll of 15 dead and 15 injured.

“Unfortunately this morning tens of thousands of people had come to the football stadium which led to the tragic incident,” Khogyani said.

The Pakistan consulate had resumed issuing visas last week after a seven-month pause because of the coronavirus outbreak.

To avoid large crowds from gathering at the visa centre the applicants had been directed to a nearby football stadium in Jalalabad, Khogyani said.

IMAGES At least 11 women have been killed in a stampede at a stadium in eastern Afghanistan where thousands had gathered to apply for visas at a nearby Pakistan consulate, officials said. Injured men and women are seen inside a hospital as people wait out IMAGES At least 11 women have been killed in a stampede at a stadium in eastern Afghanistan where thousands had gathered to apply for visas at a nearby Pakistan consulate, officials said. Injured men and women are seen inside a hospital as people wait outside. Photo: AFPTV / Noorullah SHIRZADA

“There were already thousands of people gathered at the gates of the stadium and women were given the priority to stand in the front,” said witness Abdul Ahad, who had come to the stadium to secure a Pakistani visa.

“When the officials announced that the gates were opening in the morning, everybody rushed to enter the stadium to be the first to deliver their passports,” Ahad told AFP.

“The women, most of them elderly and who were in the front fell and could not get up. It was chaotic.”

Officials said hundreds of policemen had been deployed at the stadium to control the crowd.

In ultra-conservative Afghanistan it is customary for women to queue separately from men.

Hours after the incident, relatives were seen carrying the dead in coffins from a mortuary in Jalalabad.

Many Afghans travel to neighbouring Pakistan every year, while millions have taken refuge there over the past few decades to escape war and poverty in conflict-wracked Afghanistan.

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Trump’s Afghanistan troop pullout plan leaves Afghan women scared for their rights, and their lives

If there’s a point of agreement between President Donald Trump and those on the left who favor a reduced U.S. military presence in the world, it’s that the war in Afghanistan should have ended long ago. Trump campaigned against U.S. military involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan four years ago and tweeted the same years earlier. In his 2019 State of the Union address, Trump noted that “great nations do not fight endless wars.”

No one has wanted peace more, sacrificed more or risked more to bring security to Afghanistan than Afghan women since the end of Taliban rule in 2001.

Now, as Trump’s national security adviser pledges that U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan will fall to 2,500 by early next year and while talks about talks proceed between the Afghan government and the Taliban to determine the terms of a possible agreement on power-sharing once the United States leaves, that rare American bipartisan agreement might spell disaster for the best allies the U.S. has had in security in Afghanistan until now. And those allies — Afghan women — wonder whether their rights to work and education will be able to survive the withdrawal of U.S. forces without a Taliban cease-fire and commitment to respect the gains women have made since 2001.

No one has wanted peace more, sacrificed more or risked more to bring security to Afghanistan than Afghan women since the end of Taliban rule in 2001. They have risked their own safety to fight for human rights, to work in local charities teaching agriculture and entrepreneurship and to serve in their government. They have broken norms, battled extremism in their own homes, fought for schools, served as journalists and dared to challenge traditions. All the while they have been peaceful and have argued for an end to the war between Taliban and Afghan forces.

Yet this most important voice is the one most often left out of the discussion as a peace deal is mapped out. That means that whatever is resolved between the U.S. and the Taliban, and then the Afghan government and the Taliban — the latter are now talking in Doha, Qatar, about rules that will govern talks about the shape of a future peace agreement — it is far from certain that the gains and autonomy of Afghan women can be maintained.

Before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan soon after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the treatment of women —stonings, beatings, the closing of all schools for girls, the banning of women from their own streets without chaperones — horrified much of the Western world and was a rallying cry for the need for change in Afghanistan, not just the removal of the Taliban for giving sanctuary to Al Qaeda.

Soon after the U.S.-led coalition arrived, the situation of women improved markedly as they reshaped their own communities for themselves. “Because of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their homes. They can listen to

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