나는 call my father every other day now. This is new. There used to be times where weeks would go by and we wouldn’t hear from each other. Now it’s different. Often, I call him to help stymie the gulps and tears, the flood of feelings of hopelessness, to talk about the trauma and the flashbacks I’m having from when I was made a refugee of the war in 아프가니스탄 in the 1990s.
I’m a different person from three weeks ago – before the Taliban walked in and took over Kabul, declaring themselves the new leaders of Afghanistan. My headphones blare out warbling ballads by Farhad Darya, a name many might not recognise but, to millions of Afghans and our diaspora, an icon and arguably the most lauded male pop star to come out of my beautiful broken birth-land. “Oooh those days / Safe as houses, boy we were safe / our hearts close together / Lying in the acacia’s shade, Kabul was safe.”
The words are piercing to me. 아프가니스탄, in the past century or so, has never been both peaceful and prosperous. What we would now call a developing nation, Afghanistan has for many reasons been a poor one. The past 20 years of western occupation and proxy warfare have carved destitution on the land and chiselled despair on the faces of many of my countrymen and women.
The dream of self-determination has eluded Afghans for longer, 이상 40 연령 and counting. Whatever the invading force, whether internal or external, the land of the Afghans has been a battleground of ideologies. Communism, capitalism, liberal democracy or Islamic state. None has lasted long. Through foreign meddling, the graveyard of empires has become the graveyard of innocent Afghans too, lest we forget.
It’s true that on balance the occupation of Afghanistan since 2001 was a good thing. Sort of. There were pockets of progress. I’ve seen it myself in my years of reporting and visiting, and from hearing stories from all my family still living there. The average life expectancy increased by 10 연령. Literacy rates increased to 43% 과, among young adults, reached 65%. Afghan girls and boys went to school in droves and women were allowed to work, become politicians, journalists and academics. That’s not to say it was all women’s liberation and nation-building. There was economic strife, and a hailstorm of terror attacks. It’s a testament to the Afghan people that, despite the loss of interest by the international community, the people still made such gains.
As a former refugee, I’m often asked about the women of my birth-land. 에 2011 I made my first documentary for the BBC about what life was like for the women of Afghanistan. To this day I am awestruck by their bravery and stoic persistence. I think of them when I’m fearful, or tired of fighting my struggles: the glassy-eyed stare they would give me when I would ask, “Aren’t you scared of being killed for writing/saying/doing this?”. I know that stare now. It’s the “I can’t not do this” look that women who are fighting for their very existence have all over the world. It’s the silence of terror, not triumph.
When I watched TV footage from the Hamid Karzai International airport compound, with the talented women and men of Afghanistan getting ready to be evacuated for new lives as refugees, I could think only of the women who fought a repressive culture, near abject poverty and the Taliban, just to now be deprived of the fruits of their toil.
Tens of thousands of Afghans have escaped Taliban control, among them the country’s brightest and best. Once again, Afghanistan suffers the incalculable cost of a brain drain.
The Taliban high command are instructing their countryfolk to stay and build their new emirate – with the caveat that, for now, women should not leave the house until the rank-and-file Talib can be trained in how not to brutally assault them.
I think of these women, including my cousins and aunties that I know will refuse to be forced back into their homes. I can’t bring myself to speak to them, so my dad puts the phone on speaker so I can listen. “Nazir,” his older sister says, “I had to shut the school again, we’re running out of money and food. I’ve said so much against them, they won’t let me live. I know it.” In another call, my cousin says: “I taught a course in democracy, uncle. I know they will come to kill me. Thank you for everything you have done for us. Please forgive me if I have ever upset you. God have mercy.”
I hold my breath so they don’t hear me breaking down. My dad tells my cousin there’s nothing to forgive. He’s learned helplessness whereas I haven’t. 아직.
세계에서, millions of people just like me are inheriting the trauma of our refugee story. From father to daughter, over the past three weeks, I sit with the stiff pain in my chest about a land I will never again live in. But I cannot sever the connection. The anguish and empathy wells up and bursts – with tears of rage running down my face, only to swell up days later. I call Los Angeles, Hamburg, Birmingham and other places where we of the diaspora are, and it’s the same for everyone. We’re learning the pain our parents have for so long carried alone. And the guilt of surviving, of being OK, builds up every day too.
So what happens now? The Taliban will be on their best behaviour for as long as the glare of international media is on them – which will probably last two more months, at the most. Beijing and Moscow have already signalled that they will recognise the Taliban as the legitimate leaders of the Afghan people.
As long as the freeze on the over $9bn (£6.5bn) in foreign reserves is in place, the Taliban cannot access much of Afghanistan’s assets to do anything meaningful in terms of running or building the nation, one of the poorest on Earth.
그 동안에, much has been circulating on social media about the new Afghan resistance making their way to the budding armed rebellion in the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul. If true, they will come up against the bountiful arsenal bequeathed to the Taliban by the US military as they hastily left their bases and garrisons (including more than 22,000 Humvees, 64,000 machine guns, and and four military transporter aircraft).
My assessment is that any form of armed takeover is futile. The only true route to the downfall of the Taliban lives in the heart of every educated girl and woman who stands up in protest. It lives in the act of raising the Afghan national flag, forbidden by Taliban militia, in provinces where the Afghan identity is worth living for.
It lives, forever, in the hearts and the minds of the Afghans who will try to resist by continuing to build their homeland, educate themselves and push for the freedoms so hard-earned. For these reasons, despite all the setbacks, I remain hopeful.
Hillary Clinton in conversation
Join Hillary Clinton in a livestreamed discussion with Jonathan Freedland, on Afghanistan and 20 몇 년 후 9/11. 수요일에 1 구월, 8pm BST | 9pm CEST | 3pm EDT | 12pm PDT | Book tickets here