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Afghan Female Musicians Evacuated to Qatar After Prior U.S.-Led Effort Fell Short

LONDON—Members of an internationally famend orchestra of Afghan ladies and women have been evacuated from Afghanistan after protracted negotiations among the many musicians’ supporters within the U.S., the Qatari authorities and Taliban leaders in Kabul.

The flight got here greater than a month after a U.S.-led try to get the musicians out within the final days of the conflict came to a halt at a Taliban checkpoint 100 yards from the gate of Kabul’s worldwide airport.

The ensemble, referred to as Zohra, and the music faculty of which it was an element, the Afghanistan Nationwide Institute of Music, have been symbols of Afghanistan’s cultural opening below the now-deposed U.S.-backed authorities. With musical efficiency and instruction successfully banned below the new Taliban regime, the orchestra’s backers, together with U.S. Sen.

Invoice Cassidy

(R., La.) and world well-known cellist

Yo-Yo Ma

urged the Qatari authorities to help with the musicians’ evacuation, stated folks aware of the operation.

The Qatari ministry of overseas affairs negotiated with the brand new, Taliban-led authorities to win clearance for the musicians’ departure, the folks stated. The Qatari ministry of overseas affairs didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A Taliban flag covers the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul’s Inexperienced Zone, which was as soon as the center of overseas operations in Afghanistan. WSJ’s Yaroslav Trofimov visits deserted embassies now guarded by Taliban fighters hoping overseas diplomats will return. Picture: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Photographs

On Sunday, a bunch of 101 folks made up of feminine musicians, present and former music college students, and lecturers and members of the family flew to Doha, the Qatari capital, stated

Ahmad Sarmast,

the founder and director of the institute, who was in Australia when Kabul fell. Portugal has agreed to take the group, he stated. Portugal’s overseas ministry didn’t reply to a request for remark. Mr. Sarmast stated he hopes to rebuild the orchestra and the college there, to guard his nation’s cultural heritage. He plans to convey devices from India and Switzerland—amongst others.

“There isn’t any stronger voice than music,” Mr. Sarmast stated. “They would be the musical voice of Afghanistan outdoors.”

For now, Afghanistans’ musicians have little hope that music instruction will quickly resume in Kabul. The Taliban, via their spokesman

Zabiullah Mujahid,

have stated reside music could be forbidden. Mr. Sarmast stated his pupils have been threatened and the college’s constructing is now used as barracks by the Haqqani network, a hard-line Taliban faction close to al Qaeda.

Mr. Sarmast stated he’s working to discover a means out for 184 different musicians and lecturers from his faculty and their family who’re nonetheless in Kabul.

“Quickly, they are going to be out,” he stated.

Afghanistan Below Taliban Rule

Write to Benoit Faucon at benoit.faucon@wsj.com

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