This is the first post in a series entitled ‘Voices of Afghanistan’s Youth‘, which will feature the writings of Afghan university students. They are students at the American University in Afghanistan (AUAF). This unique series is both deeply personal and analytical. The students write on a range of topics from social media to security and education to aid effectiveness in Afghanistan. Allyson Krupar, an Instructor in the Department of IT & Computer Sciences at the AUAF facilitated and helped create this series. Many of the writers are her students.
President Obama, in his recent State of the Union address, announced the withdrawal of 34,000 troops by February 2014. The first two posts in this series reflect on the future of Afghanistan after this deadline and beyond. The first, entitled ‘Everybody has a plan to leave Afghanistan’, is by Zahra, a 23-year female student studying business administration. The second, entitled ‘What will happen after 2014’, is by a student who wishes to remain anonymous.
Everybody has a plan to leave Afghanistan
Zahra is a 23-year old Afghan woman, and currently an undergraduate student at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF). Zahra was raised in Iran, but is from Behsud, Afghanistan. She studies business administration at the AUAF. Zahra also works as project administrator in a NGO. Zahra’s family returned to Kabul 8 years ago.
I live in fear more and more as each day passes and it gets closer to 2014.
Everybody is talking about civil war again. Everybody has a plan to leave Afghanistan; they want to have a better life. But where? In a country that does not belong to them?
Everybody sees them as an unfortunate refugee. Today, in our office, my colleague said that she put her house on the market and want to go to Australia. “But how?”, I asked. She said like everybody else that goes. I said, “With an invitation? Do you know somebody there? Will they send you invitation letter?” She laughed at me. She said, “Oh no, we will go illegally”.
First India, then Indonesia. After that they will go by ship to Australia. I said it is a risk and her youngest child is only six. But, she is fed up with this life; with the situation in Afghanistan getting worse and worse every day. She wants a better life for her children, not for her self. She has been living her whole life in Afghanistan in war, in discrimination, in fighting, in bombs and suicide attacks. She does not want her children to experience those dark days like she did.
One day during the Taliban regime, she was in a bus when it was stopped by the Taliban. The men went into the bus and beat her with stick because she didn’t cover her face with a burqa. She doesn’t want to see her daughter beaten by the Taliban.
I fear what will happen. The only image that I have of the Taliban is of men with a huge turbans, big weapons, Afghan clothes and lots of beards and mustaches. They do not like educated women like me. They want to kill those girls who go to universities or schools. When I think about the Taliban I feel nauseous. I hope they do not come back and Afghanistan does not go back to civil war again.
I am confused. What will be Afghanistan’s future? Why is this country like this? Aren’t we human? Don’t we want to spend our life in peace? Why? Why should we have reputation in the world for war and fighting. Every body knows Afghanistan as a place of fighting and war. I don’t like this. When I say I am from Afghanistan, I don’t want people to say to themselves, “She is a daughter of war. She comes from a land of war.”
God where are you? Don’t you see us? Don’t you see this unfortunate and destroyed country? Don’t you see these corrupt governors? Don’t you see these dusty and bumpy streets?
Oh god where are you? Really, where are you? What are you doing? What are you waiting for? Will it get worse? God, don’t you like Afghanistan? God, some of my people just kill themselves to come to you forever. They heard if they kill others they will reach you; is it right? People in this world have different imaginations of you. I sometimes get confused.
If Afghanistan was a peaceful country, a country without war, racism, killings then nobody would want to leave Afghanistan and put their lives and bodies in danger. We are getting crazy thinking about 2014 and civil war. We can’t enjoy our time right now as it passes. We are losing our time as these fears enter our mind.
What will happen after 2014?
At the end of 2014, almost all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan, and the Afghan security forces will be responsible for securing Afghanistan. Moreover, all NGOs working in Afghanistan are expected to leave after withdrawal of US troops and the arrival of the Taliban.
Why this might be a problem?
In my view, I expect that the Taliban will re-take Afghanistan and the capital of Kabul. Although, there have been some progresses in Kabul, I think after withdrawal of US troops Afghanistan will be again a witness to civil war.
Back in 2001, the Taliban did not let people to use phones or connect with each other. They did not let girls study in schools or go outside for some reasons; they started punishing them in several ways. For instance, hitting women with a whip, stoning them in public, shooting them in public, and not letting their boys to study in best educational areas.
Military trainings were mandatory for every young person over 18. The situation of Afghanistan got better after the US invasion. Moreover, best achievements got after invasion US invasion like expanding educational areas and paving the way for youths to study on most of fields. Indeed, there are many private educational centers all over Afghanistan, which are effective. Additionally, the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was a great achievement.
Now, I am concerned about the future of Afghanistan after 2014, and I think the government will be retaken by the Taliban, and we will be under Taliban rules of law. Indeed, the Taliban mentioned in a conference for peace held in France that they do not want the current law of Afghanistan, and will demand many changes. This is a big concern; about going back to the situation prior to 2001.
The Afghan security forces are prepared to avoid harming civilians. Afghanistan’s government needs more funds to strengthen the Afghan Army. This will allow them to prepare and lead military operations throughout the country.
However, I think the Afghan government will not reach its destination, and they will fail again to control our own security. Afghans again will be the witnesses and casualties of civil war.