In a sight that would have horrified the old regime, 1,000 Afghan women gathered in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar to revive an annual picnic event.
On orders from Kandahar Governor Gul Agha, the first women's picnic for 25 years was staged at Baba Saab, a Muslim shrine and scenic spot about 15 kilometres north of the city.
Although the picnic was scrapped long before the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, such a gathering would have been unthinkable under the hard-line regime, which banned women from education and work, virtually imprisoning them in their own homes.
Picnic organizer and Kandahar education director Mohammed Dawood Barak described the event, timed for the first Wednesday in the Afghan new year, as the "luckiest day for the women of Kandahar. . . . For 25 years this picnic has been nothing more than a dream to the women of Kandahar; now it is a reality."
Salima Nauzadi, 37, a teacher at Kandahar's Zarghona Ana girls school, described the daylong picnic as the "happiest day of her life."
"I and all my students came to celebrate and taste this free environment," she said. ". . . I have seen hundreds of interesting women." AFP