I managed to get out of Afghanistan – but now all I can think about are those left behind

People in my country worked so hard to try and build a better future. Do we really deserve this?

Sunday 22 August 2021 14:52

Rory Stewart blasts ‘extraordinary betrayal’ of US withdrawal from Afghanistan

The Taliban took over Kabul,” my friend told me on the phone while crying.

She is a friend I have known for more than 13 years, and I’ve witnessed the effort she put into making a better future for herself. She studied at the best school in Kabul, worked hard to get into the best university and got two degrees before getting a job and being promoted. She dreamed – and then suddenly all the dreams shattered.

Now my friend, and millions like her, are facing an uncertain future.

I fled Kabul a while ago but left everything behind; my parents, my siblings and friends who didn’t have the opportunity to get out; my job; my education; my people and my motherland.

I received a text message saying that I had to leave in three hours. I just about managed to get home and throw some clothes in a suitcase. I left everything else behind just to save my own and my family’s life.

Later, when I heard that the Taliban took over Kabul, I was shocked. My parents were planning to get to another country – at least a neighbouring one – but they couldn’t. They were stuck.

What would happen to my sisters? My friends? My colleagues? Now, even random people are sending me messages asking what is going to happen to them, and how they are going to get themselves out of the country. Women are more concerned and frightened. Does this mean forced marriage, violence, whips, burqa, and no access to education, work and healthcare again? Or killing, looting, and burning?

When the international troop withdrawal started, no one cared about Afghanistan. But we feel heartbroken, helpless and betrayed because the US – the world’s biggest superpower – made a shameful deal with the Taliban and left. They failed us.

We feel betrayed by our own president who selfishly fled Afghanistan and disappointed all who trusted and voted for him.

“Like the fish unaware of their fate, we were sold to a lot of whales,” many wrote on their social media.

Since 2001, thousands of innocent lives have been lost, and tens of thousands of people have been displaced. Some have lost their loved ones and even their own limbs to take the country forward. But now we are moving backwards.

The world should not watch this crisis silently. They should not believe what the Taliban are saying. Once foreigners are out and the connection between the country and the world is broken, the Taliban will break all their promises as they already have in some places.

Thousands of young men and women joined security forces and fought on the frontlines, sometimes stuck somewhere without food and water for days. They sacrificed their lives by standing against Afghanistan’s enemies. Now they are hopeless and hiding from the Taliban. “My brother was an ANA (Afghan National Army) commando officer, he got shot in the head in action by the Taliban’s sniper two months ago. Are all these sacrifices for nothing?” someone wrote on Twitter while provinces were collapsing rapidly ahead of the seizing of Kabul.

I am now in a safe place but the concerns of Afghanistan are always with me. I am in Afghanistan with my whole heart and mind. I think about the people stuck there who worked hard and hoped to build a better future but don’t see one anymore. Meanwhile, my thoughts are with those who fled Afghanistan to survive and are starting from scratch in other countries they don’t even know.

Do we deserve this?

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