By Wakil Kohsar / Getty Images
In the midst of the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan, One Young World Ambassadors from Afghanistan share their thoughts and reflections.
Views reflect those of the author(s). The names of the contributors have been removed to preserve their anonymity. Reflections have been edited for length and/or clarity.
I can’t anticipate what will happen in the next hour in my life.
Written on the 12th August:
Afghanistan, the country of war in the last decades. I am writing this article in a situation in which I can’t anticipate what will happen in the next hour in my life. We see that the history of our country goes back again and I lost my hope to feel a peaceful environment in my homeland one day. Here I will shortly describe a description of war history and currently happening horrific events ongoing.
Historically, Afghanistan has been always a battleground for colonial powers for several years.
The world's superpowers use this country to achieve their economic and political goals, and in this situation, the innocent and poor people of Afghanistan are affected. All the efforts to develop our country toward a better future are suspended.
The Taliban (the group of people who are against the current government of Afghanistan) are advancing rapidly in the provincial capitals. They won over Herat (my hometown) yesterday evening, and their clashes are intensifying. Under the governance of the Taliban, women are known as the second gender and they don’t have even very initial rights such as going to school or coming out of home without a close male family member (Mahram).
Unfortunately, under these circumstances all my education plans, experiences and dreams to grow up are unthinkable. I had planned to apply for a scholarship for my postgraduate studies and I was preparing to take my TOEFL exam in the next month. Due to this situation, I can’t go through the centre to take the exam.
Furthermore, becoming a One Young World Ambassador has opened another door of hope to my goals, but internet blockage and limitations may not allow me to connect with the community of my dreams. As a female medical doctor working in United Nation NGOs, if I was to be captured by Taliban, I will be killed without any hesitation. Instead of working on my goals and intentions, my family and I are changing our location in the city to rescue our lives.
People are suffering lots of sacrifices, yet the international societies are in absolute silence against this human catastrophe. All boundaries are closed to the people who are paddling to save their lives. I hope that through this letter, I can cause the voice of many young people whose thoughts are being dissolved to be heard. Stop terrorism in Afghanistan!
Now is not the time to leave us alone in the fight against a monster we didn't create alone.
From Facebook, written on 12th August:
I am heartbroken about the ongoing war in my home country.
To see the same politicians who advocated for war in Afghanistan since 2001 now throw their hands up in the air and say "their country, their responsibility" is enraging.
In the past 20 years, global powers and the governments of our neighboring countries have funded and armed the Taleban AND their opponents, ignored their atrocities and human rights violations, and failed to address the root causes of the conflict. And now, Biden says "he wants to talk about happy things" when asked about Afghanistan.
In these years, when Afghans decried Taleban influence and their atrocities, we were called "anti-peace" and told to sign on to the "peace" agreements the U.S. draws up. We were told the Taleban (a terrorist group compromised of people from around the world and funded by Iran, Pakistan, Saudi, Russia, and at times international aid organizations who wanted to be able to work in different regions and bribed their way there) were our problem and our people. Instead of investing in accountability and justice, the world told us to be grateful for not being killed and to not feel entitled to international help against a terrorist group that was once funded by the United States to defeat the Soviets.
Well today, after the U.S.-Taleban deal, there's no peace. We're still being killed, forced to leave our homes, and made to compromise all we've sacrificed for. And there's been no accountability and justice. So no, the world can't say "your country, your responsibility" now. This war didn't start in 2001. It started in 1979.
Since going home at the end of July (and living in fear for my family's safety for half a decade), I've been completely numb. I haven't written my thoughts because I felt unable to articulate them and because I wanted to uplift the voices of the people who are in Afghanistan.
Unlike me (holder of an American passport since January), most people don't have a way to leave. I've received so many messages in the past few days of people asking me for help and guidance on how they can leave and honestly, I am completely helpless. Most of us are.
What we can do is:
- Continue uplifting the voices of people on the ground. I've been retweeting those I know and trust.
- Donate to transparent efforts to help the families who've been displaced.
- Continue to speak out against the Taleban.
The people of Afghanistan have shown in the past 20 years that we don't want them back. From sending our girls to schools to endangering our lives to protect freedom of press and speech, we've been loud and clear that we won't go back to the Taleban. We've been saying #NoToTaliban for the past two decades. Don't take our exhaustion with war for compliance with the Taleban. Those saying Afghans agree w/ the Taleban are lying so they don't have to take responsibility for handing the country over to them. Now is not the time to leave us alone in the fight against a monster we didn't create alone.
The Abandoned Nation
On August 15, one of the darkest days of Afghanistan history in the past four decades, Taliban fighters poured into the Afghan capital Kabul amid scenes of confusion and chaos, bringing a sudden and shockingly close to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan government and the two decades American era in the country.
Four decades ago, On May 7, 1978, the people's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, in collaboration with Soviet intelligence (KGB), staged a coup against the government of Dawood Khan, killing 17 of Dawood Khan's relatives, including herself, at the presidential palace, executions of Nur Muhammad Taraki, Hafizullah Amin and Dr. Najib. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with his close team. He chose to run away, insisted on resistance. A council of Afghan officials, including former President Hamid Karzai, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, said they would initiate negotiations with the Taliban over the state of the insurgency's takeover.
Milad Pyanda Twitter / Photo
Rahmat Gul / AP Photo
Afghan people are in shock after 18 hours; everything changed, people are panic, thousands of Afghans rush to banks to withdraw their money from banks.
On another side of the city, people are painting over posters of women at beauty salons, already fearing the return of the Taliban prohibition against images of women unveiled.
Amid occasional fires of gunfire, the whump of American Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters above drowned out the thrum of traffic as the frantic evacuation effort unfolded. Below, Kabul's streets were blocked with vehicles as panic set off a race to leave the city.
The airport is on lockdown as 1000 more US soldiers are scheduled to land in Kabul today.
Thousand of Afghans reached the Hamid Karzai International Airport without passports and visas.
The US forces have actively taken control of Kabul Airport after a brief gunfight. Three dead bodies of civilians were on the scene. People are falling off of an overcrowded C130 that was evacuating Afghans. It is said that these guys were holding on to the tires of the plane.
All commercial flights are suspended at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, a statement reads. The statement calls on the people to avoid crowds at the airport.
People are rushing to enter the airplane in any way possible. [Raqibullah/photo]
This is, perhaps, one of the saddest images I've seen from Afghans who are desperate and abandoned. No aid agencies, no UN, no government. Nothing.
Kabul Airport is the last patch of Afghanistan still under American control. Chaos, panic, desperation.
I start my day looking at the empty streets of Kabul, horrified its people. History repeats itself so quickly.
After a decade of proxy war from 1979 to 1998, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Pakistan have turned Afghanistan into a safe haven for international terrorism. It made it easy and fast to set up training centers, enlist the help of countries that support terrorist groups, fan the flames of war abroad to benefit domestic and international strategy, and allow travelers to join al-Qaeda. Training centers in Pakistan and Afghanistan provided training to more than 80,000 troops between 1996 and 2001, with millions of dollars in assistance from Saudi Arabia and other countries. In early 1998, Afghanistan became a training center for terrorist groups.
Twenty years after American troops invaded Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked on September 11, 2001.
The 2001 Bonn Conference set out a roadmap, with the constitution in place during the reign of the Shah between 1963 and 1973 and the agreement to establish an interim government; it was transferred and elected.
In the last two decades, the war has claimed the lives of more than 40,000 civilians, more than 64,100 defense and security forces, and hundreds of thousands more were wounded and were displaced from their homes.
Meanwhile, 35,000 American troops gave their lives, and thousands more were wounded to build a democratic Afghan government. The longest war of the US cost more than a trillion between 2002 and 2020.
After decades of struggles, state-building and promoting democracy in Afghanistan is utter chaos, and Afghans have abounded with no future celerity again.
Since US troops began withdrawing in May, the Taliban have steadily overrun the country and entered the capital on Sunday.
In recent weeks alone, thousands fled to Kabul as the Taliban advanced through other cities at a staggering speed.
Now, Afghans suddenly face the prospect of complete domination by the Taliban again. In areas the insurgents have recently conquered, there is no sign they have turned away from the harsh Islamist code and rule by intimidation that characterized their government in the 1990s.
In early July, as Taliban fighters were seizing territory from Afghan forces across Afghanistan, some of them walked into the offices of Azizi Bank in Kandahar city. They forced nine women working there to leave.
The Taliban escorted them to their homes and told them not to return to their jobs.
"It's bizarre to not be allowed to get to work, but now this is what it is," Noor Khatera, a 43-year-old woman who worked in the accounts department of Azizi Bank, told Reuters.
"Taliban invaded the homes of at least two female journalists in Kabul today. One managed to escape; one is unreachable." Nadia Momand, a 27-year-old woman who worked with Enikass TV station in Nangarhar.
Hundreds of schools are banded for girls, and a million children are incapable of attending the schools.
Last week, the Taliban not allowed female civilian employees to attend government offices in many provinces, notably Herat and Mazar homes for Gohar Shab begum the famous minister and the chief consort of Shah Rukh, the emperor of the Timurid Empire, and Rabia Balkhi, the first woman poet in the history of New Persian poetry.
During Taliban rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, women could not work, girls were not allowed to attend school, and women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative if they wanted to venture out of their homes.
Women who broke the rules sometimes suffered humiliation and public beatings by the Taliban's religious police under the group's ultra-strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The US wants to leave no matter what. They keep on agreeing with whatever demands the Taliban make. Taliban realized this, so they keep changing their terms & the US keep blending.
Meanwhile, many nations were scrambling to evacuate their diplomats, citizens, and some local Afghan staff.
Today, Afghanistan has gone through a difficult period of ups and downs, which has reached this stage with countless casualties.
Unforeseen withdrawal and unpredictability of the future caused the continuation of this war and miscalculation of the groups involved in Afghanistan.
Forty-three years of war have been good experiences to accept that achieving an inclusive scheme and a solution to achieve a powerful government can only be solved through mutual negotiation and acceptance.
Will the Taliban pursue hegemony through force and pressure, change the nature of their diplomacy, and come to terms with the others involved in Afghanistan?
The question is, who wants to start again from scratch and who wants to maintain this outstanding achievement and strive for its survival?
The time will tell answers to this question.
Peace is a hopeful dream of every Afghan regardless of ethnicity, religion, and language.
Afghanistan struggles with unprecedented violence and conflict. The offensive of the Taliban has intensified when the foreign militaries started a withdrawal from the country. During the crisis, the genocide targeted the killing of human rights, and woman activists, journalists and media reporters, schoolchildren, and students have escalated to its upper level. “The Afghan military has over 300,000 soldiers, polices, air force and many other advantages that Taliban don’t have,” the US defense secretary Lloyd J. Austin said, and he has maintained that the US will continue to support the Afghan military. In contrast, the Taliban could rapidly advance across the major cities within a few days. EU, US, and other countries continue to evacuate their embassies, and their nationals from Afghanistan after long-running investment.
Given the numerous challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has posed to the world, global universities are offering their students a large number of prizes to encourage them to be vaccinated to protect them safely. The students in Afghanistan are not concerned about the pandemic, their everyday concern is being shot and killed in their schools. Many women are feeling their homes, jobs, universities fearing rape, murder, and forced marriages by Taliban members. According to the United Nations, more than 5500 attacks including 1960 attacks on woman and children in 31 of the country’s 34 provinces has been launched by the group and its affiliates. A total of 4.8 million displaced and 18.4 million people are in the need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Thousands of displaced families suffer hardships in a park in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 11, 2021. Approximately 30,000 families have been displaced due to govt and Taliban clashes in the northern provinces. (Haroon Sabawoon - Anadolu Agency)
The people of Afghanistan need the international community bodies to take decisive action for the trial of life-long war criminals and their leaders behind. Education and safety as a human being are the basic rights of every woman and child in Afghanistan. At the end of 2020, Afghanistan ranked as the 3rd among five countries originated 68% of total refugees in the world. It’s time to end the refugee crisis and the escalating number of Afghan children who are born into a refugee life per year. The ripple burden of sharpening big new waves of refugees will not be limited to asylum seekers, but at least their next three generations and host countries.
The invisible mental health crisis among people of Afghanistan due to decades of war and poverty in comparison, to the global average, is a warning. The current situation of feeling unheard by the international communities, helplessness, and extreme anxiety of dark age and uncertain future, however, is silent but is extremely alarming and aggravates the crisis. During the Taliban period in one study 81% of women reported at least one mental health disorder. Transition to Taliban governance would certainly threaten the rights of women, ethnic and religious minorities which have been one of the main targets of several attacks for many years.
An Afghan soldier removes a baby from the maternity clinic attack in Kabul May-2020. Photograph: Rahmat Gul
Books, notebooks, and other school supplies are left behind after deadly bombings on Saturday near a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 9, 2021 | Mariam Zuhaib/AP
The Taliban legitimacy by other countries is an obvious violation of human rights against civilians of Afghanistan. A country that in turn has been used as a venue for proxy war. Psychological warfare without considering the risk of casualties on civilians only empowers the Taliban and its neighboring security services to escalate their offensives. The act of aggression by any country in supporting terrorism against innocent peoples of Afghanistan needs to be strongly condemned by the whole international community.
This is an urgent call for United Nations, humanitarian services, policymakers, and everyone who aims to save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity to take strong action to end the lifelong conflict in Afghanistan. Peace is a hopeful dream of every Afghan regardless of ethnicity, religion, and language.
If you are able to offer any support, connections, or resources to those currently based in Afghanistan, please reach out.
For our readers around the world, particularly those living in countries affected by conflict, we ask you, what does your vision of peace look like? Please share your insights with our team.
Email us: [email protected]