Thursday, November 19, 2009

Female squash player from Waziristan defies the odds: Dawn

Female squash player from Waziristan defies the odds By Taimur Sikander
Dawn, 19 Nov, 2009
KARACHI: Top Pakistani squash players Aamir Atlas Khan and Maria Toor have been nominated for Professional Squash Association Young Player of the Year and Women's International Squash Players Association (WISPA) Young Player of the Year, respectively, by the World Squash Federation.

Both Aamir and Maria belong to the North West Frontier Province, home also to Pakistan squash legends Jahangir and Jansher Khan, where they train amidst constant threats from the Taliban. While it has been a comparatively easy ride for Aamir, by virtue of being a male in a part of the country where residents adhere to strict Islamic law, for the 19-year-old Maria it has been a journey of immense courage and perseverance.

Growing up in South Waziristan, Maria was a very different girl, often getting into brawls with boys and generally being very dominating, some very unusual traits for women in NWFP. She was equally lucky to have an open-minded father who noticed his daughter's sporting talent and ability and did not want it to go to waste.

'I didn't want her talent to go to waste,' Shams-ul-Qayum Wazir said in an interview to CNN. 'If I would've kept her in the village, all she could do was housekeeping,' he added satisfied with his decision to pack up from South Waziristan and move to Peshawar in late 1999.

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