Afghan girls win European prize for solar-powered farming robot

Members of the Afghan all-girls robotics team carry their robot onto the competition floor on July 17, 2017, during 2017 FIRST Global Challenge competitions at DAR Constitution Hall, in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 30 November 2017

Afghan girls win European prize for solar-powered farming robot

LONDON: An Afghan girls’ robotics team, which was temporarily denied entry to the United States earlier this year, has won an award at a prestigious competition in Europe.
The team’s winning entry was a solar-powered robot that would help small farmers carry out tasks including seeding and cutting crops like wheat, Afghanistan’s embassy in London told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Thursday.
Three teenage members of the team won the Entrepreneurial Challenge at Robotex, which bills itself as “Europe’s biggest robotics festival” and took place in the Estonian capital of Tallinn from November 24 to 26.
The category requires entries that involve “solving a real world problem” by a robot that “customers would want to buy.”
“They are an excellent example for people around the world of what can be accomplished by young Afghans if given the right support and the opportunity to excel in their education,” Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad said in an emailed statement.
“They are undeniably the future of Afghanistan.”
The team briefly found itself in the global spotlight last July when the United States denied four of its members visas to travel to an academic robotics competition.
After a public outcry, American officials reversed their decision and granted the girls an exemption, called a parole, that allowed them to travel.
Their win in Eastonia garnered a small cash prize, and they are also invited to take part in a larger US event in May where they will compete for investment money to start their own company, the embassy in London said.


Pakistan  hardens position over disputed Kashmir with new map

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at a news conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia, February 4, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan  hardens position over disputed Kashmir with new map

  • The Muslim-majority Himalayan region has been at the heart of more than 70 years of animosity since the partition of British-ruled India into Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India in 1947

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday approved a new map that showed areas in the Himalayan Kashmir valley to be a part of Pakistan, a move likely to anger neighbor India which also lays claim to the territory.
An image of the new map was shared with Pakistani media by Khan’s office. India has not commented on the development so far. The map signals a hardening of Pakistan’s position over the border row.
The Muslim-majority Himalayan region has been at the heart of more than 70 years of animosity since the partition of British-ruled India into Muslim Pakistan and majority Hindu India in 1947.
Tensions reached a new high in August last year, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took away Indian-administered Kashmir’s special privileges, provoking anger in the region and in Pakistan.
It also took away the region’s status as a state by creating two federally controlled territories, splitting off the thinly populated, Buddhist-dominated region of Ladakh. Jammu & Kashmir had been the only Muslim-majority state in India.
India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the region.
India has battled insurgency in the portion of Kashmir it controls for decades and blames Pakistan for fueling the strife, but Pakistan denies it is responsible, saying it only gives moral support to non-violent separatists.
The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of mostly-Muslim Kashmir.
Another resolution also calls upon both sides to “refrain from making any statements and from doing or causing to be done or permitting any acts which might aggravate the situation.”