While he was engaged in digitising software at the Administration office of the Afghan President in Kabul, alarm bells began to ring for the impending entry of the Taliban. Shadab Hussain (name changed for privacy concerns), along with his other colleagues left the office only to find that there were no cars or public transport available. He had to walk two hours before he managed to reach home ahead of the Taliban capture of the war-ravaged nation.
Hussain managed to escape to Europe as he is slated to continue his higher studies there but his family still resides in Kabul. Talking to EducationWorld, on conditions of anonymity, he recollects the horrifying incidents after the Taliban seized Kabul and also shares his thoughts on the future of Afghanistan. Hussain has received threats from unknown organisations barring him from disclosing any information on the ground realities in his country to the media.
Q: The Taliban took over Kabul on August 15. Where were you and how did you escape?
It was on August 12/13 that we heard about the Taliban entering Kabul. I immediately rushed out of my office along with my colleagues without even submitting my resignation to reach back home safely. The Taliban had not yet entered Kabul but there was not a single transport in the city. I had to walk two hours to reach home.
On August 16, I somehow managed to reach the Kabul airport. The airport was crowded with everyone trying to enter, children getting lost, troops throwing tear gas, people falling on streets, some getting killed. Since I was selected for a Digital Communication course in Europe, I had a Schengen visa. The Foreign Ministry of Austria collaborated with the German troops and helped me evacuate in a German Air Force.
Q: Your family is still in Afghanistan. How do you intend to ensure their safety?
I humbly appeal and request the European countries to save my family. Previously, I had worked in the United States of America and this is why my family is in more danger. I was scheduled to immigrate to the US along with my family but unfortunately the immigration department has not yet responded back.
My father, two brothers and two sisters who are school-going students are presently in Kabul and the situation is very volatile there. The Taliban has banned co-educational schooling and has also banned girls from having male teachers.
Q: Are you in touch with your family?
Yes, I am presently in touch with them through social media. The internet too is very unstable there. Whenever they can, they are responding back.
Q: Looking at it from an individual perspective, what do you have to say about the future of Education in Afghanistan?
The future is unclear. The future of my country and countrymen is bleak. We do not know whether education will be allowed or not. My fellow countrymen have no peace of mind. There is no democracy and I am afraid that they will change more policies.
Q: How has the Taliban changed its ideals and approach over the years?
The Taliban does not seem to have changed at all. They are following the same rules that were in effect around 20 years ago. They will put a restrained image but will torture people from the minority communities in the name of policies. The Taliban recently “massacred” and brutally tortured several members of the Hazara minority in Afghanistan. Witnesses have given harrowing accounts of the killings, which took place in early July in the Ghazni province.
Q: Reports claim that the Talibans have helped many people evacuate. Is this true?
I do not think this works. The Taliban has many checkpoints on the roads. While travelling, people delete their documents from their phones so that their identity is not disclosed. Even I had deleted all my documents from my phone, when I was enroute to the airport. I just carried my passport. In case they find anyone with a piece of evidence that suggests he/she had worked for the government of United States, their life gets thrown into jeopardy.
Q: How have women benefitted from the Western-backed order established after 2001 U.S-led invasion?
The Taliban has laid out rules that state women should stay in their homes until further notice and I do not think they will change their policies favouring women. Previously, women studied and also got jobs, paid taxes to the government. There was democracy in the country and none of our dreams was throttled.
Q. You are in a safer place continuing your education. How do you intend to help your country and fellow countrymen? Do you think it is very difficult to even think of ushering a change because the crisis is really threatening?
Previously, I had worked with government organisations. I have been part of teams working on strategies to implement e-governance in Afghanistan. It was my dream to be able to implement e-governance entirely in Afghanistan which would also become an effective way to fight against corruption. I had plans to set up a research organisation and I genuinely hope that in the future the country becomes a secure place to work and live in. All those who have left Afghanistan love their country but are forced to pursue their dreams in other countries because of lack of security and stability in the country.International, News