Ever since the shift of power in Afghanistan, most of the Afghan students studying in India are worried about the state of affairs back home. The debacle in Afghanistan has unleashed chaos with lightning speed over the past few days and has ensured the return of one of the most brutal regimes in this world “the Taliban”. The so-called swift shift in power has unleashed a humanitarian crisis and will likely create a major refugee crisis for Afghan people living across the globe. Many are fleeing from major cities like Kabul, Kandahar, Ghazni to safer countries like India, the USA, Pakistan to escape the wrath of the Taliban. Heartwrenching scenes from the capital city of Kabul like people clinging on to a moving US aeroplane is a common sight in the chaotic city of Kabul right now.
I attempt to throw some light on the concerns of Afghan students studying and living in Delhi and see what is their reaction to the current crisis in their native country is. To my surprise, many students are happy and hopeful and see the rise of the Taliban as a positive sign for the future of their country.
Nadir Kholmi, a postgraduate student of Jamia Millia Islamia expresses her hopelessness at the situation “we are in pain and we cannot tolerate it, I have not spoken to my family for two days, I want to go back home and look after them, it is a silent death to stick to tv news channels awaiting news from home and imagining the fate of your family”. Her roommate Masrat Mir who studies political science at PG DAV college of Delhi university shares her misery she too has lost contact with her family who lives in the town of Balkh “it is a state of hopelessness we cannot go home, we cannot stay knowing our loved are suffering there, I have never been so directionless in my entire life” Natiq Malikzaada a dentistry student at Jamia Millia Islamia's dental faculty expresses his disdain for the Taliban “our beautiful country has been plunged into darkness again after twenty years, last night in Kabul they came looking for my cousin who used to work as the vice president’s office when they found nothing they punctured the tires of my family’s car and said they could not leave the city”.
While passing through the narrow lanes of Lajpat Nagar which is a popular Afghan locality in Delhi one can locate distraught Afghani students at local eateries. Maruf Fazli another Delhi university student shares his grief of losing his father who was a high ranking officer in the Afghan army “ I was fortunate enough to be present to perform his final rites compared to several other Afghans who did not get dignity in their death” he adds, “everyone I know is running out of fear of the Taliban, they are slaughtering people like goats.” Most of the people I met and interviewed remember how it was like when the Taliban last came to power in Afghanistan. Surprisingly, I met some young Afghanis who were not only staunch supporters of the Taliban but also justified their vile and brutal actions. These students were mostly the ones who live in rural areas of Afghanistan where the Taliban has always had a stronghold.
Hafizullah Mohammed, student of gender studies at Jawahar Lal Nehru university says, “whatever happened at Kabul international airport was a plot by Americans to defame Taliban real afghans are not escaping, I did not panic, I swear after 20 years I feel our soil and I can feel my independence” he adds, “big changes will come and of course there are going to be fundamental changes but I am sure by each passing day everything will be fine, we are optimistic.”
Rukhsar who studies at the British council says “if you ask my situation nothing very unpredictable is happening over the last 100 hours or so no crime has happened, the people of Afghanistan are welcoming the new government of IEA. (Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan)
The more I speak to people the more I hear tales of helplessness but listening to the Taliban sympathizers makes one wonder about the deep divide in opinion among the afghani people on the Taliban. One common pattern which was quite evident in these interactions was that a lot of elites who live across major cities like Kabul, Kandahar, Herat had a major dislike and sense of fear from the Taliban while people living in rural and remote areas of Afghanistan were staunch supporters. They are often key allies to the cause of the Taliban and on some rare occasions, I met people whose family members were serving both in the Afghan military and the Taliban.
The US and NATO’s decisions to withdraw troops out of Afghanistan after 20 years have proved to be a catastrophic decision for the future of Afghanistan. The brutal regime of the Taliban has been reinstated after a break of 20 years after beating the Afghan military. The misery and uncertainty of the future of these students and their parents are likely to last a long period. A massive influx of Afghan refugees seeking asylum abroad is increasing rapidly. India will most likely face the brunt of the refugee crisis as many refugees will look for asylum. The troubled students in India may want to extend their visa duration for themselves and their families. The Indian government has already pledged a safe return to Hindu and Sikh refugees from Afghanistan.
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