South Asia

Helmand sacking over female singers without headscarves

Farzana Naz
Thousands of people turned up at the concert in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand

The deputy governor of Helmand province has been sacked for organising a concert that featured female performers without headscarves.

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai took the action against Abdul Satar Mirzakwal after tribal elders complained that it was inappropriate.

The concert attracted about 12,000 people and was hailed as a success by local authorities.

Helmand is one of Afghanistan's most volatile provinces.

Correspondents say that simply staging the concert in Helmand was a sign of the extent to which security has improved in the province after a sustained coalition offensive against Taliban militants in the area.

The concert featured two female singers - Farzana Naz and Rita Wagma - who appeared on stage without headscarves.

But officials in the country's Supreme Court said that Mr Karzai took action after hearing complaints from tribal elders.

"Women do not appear in public without wearing a burka and niqab in an Islamic country like Afghanistan," one official, who wished to remain unnamed, said.

"Mirzakwal should have ensured respect for Islamic traditions."

The Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG), which recommends the appointment and dismissal of governors and deputy governors, says it was not consulted by President Karzai before he fired Mr Mirzakwal.

"We were not consulted about it. We didn't know about it," an IDLG official said.