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Afghans in US Worry For Their Homeland's Future

Posted: Jan 11, 2012

Editor’s Note: The U.S. has lost the Afghanistan war, says Fariba Nawa. Will Taliban brutality end gains for women and minorities?

FREMONT, Calif.--As the United States and the Taliban negotiate a ceasefire, Afghans in the U.S. are wondering what will happen to their families and friends inside Afghanistan.

I live in the Fremont area, dubbed Little Kabul, where the largest Afghan Diaspora lives in this country. Since the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban, we have reunited with our loved ones. Some of us have gone back to work, while others resettled in the cities.

I moved to Afghanistan after 20 years in 2002 to research my book, Opium Nation. I met the Afghan man I married, made friends from Helmand to Mazar and reconnected with my cousins.

I returned to the U.S. when I was pregnant with my first child after three bombs exploded near our home in 2007. I do not want to raise a child in a war zone because I was a child of war during the Soviet invasion.

When I left Kabul, I told my relatives I would return when Afghanistan was safer. But the violence continues to rise.

The U.S. has lost the war. The Taliban will soon regain control of the country. The Taliban forbid women from working or going to school. They banned TV, music and photography during their six-year reign.
The country may become generally safer, but women, the educated and minorities, such as the Hazara ethnic group are likely to lose the hard-won freedoms they have gained in the last 10 years.

“No Hope Left”

My female cousins and friends are doctors, artists and teachers. What will happen to them?

One photographer friend has become internationally recognized for his news photos. He recently told me he’s thinking of leaving the country. He is one of four in his group of 24 friends who has remained in Kabul. “There’s no hope left,” he told me recently on Skype.

Many professional Afghans who get U.S. visas to attend conferences or get a higher education do not return -- they seek asylum. The majority of those in danger will once again cross the border to Iran and Pakistan if a civil war breaks out.

Other friends who work for the Afghan government fear a bloody purge. The Taliban have been assassinating civil servants and aid workers. They have become more technologically savvy and brutal in these 10 years. 

I understand that the war must end, but Americans should care enough to insist on a doctrine of human rights in the peace negotiations. U.S. troops lost their lives and fought in the name of freedom, their sacrifice will have been in vain if Afghanistan returns to being a prison for half of its population.

I yearn to repatriate with my husband and two daughters to a secure Afghanistan where my kids can go to school and I can continue to report.

Fariba Nawa is an Afghan-American journalist and author of
Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan.

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