Life Under Taliban Was Bad & I am Scared: Afghan Student Writes

“The Taliban are seen as the only way to peace in Afghanistan,” writes a student on life under the Taliban.

2 min read
A member of Taliban in Afghanistan. Image used for representation.

After the collapse of Taliban for the first time in my life I saw women go out of their houses without a male company and a burqa. I saw men with trimmed hair and no beard. It was strange to see that.

There were talks of TV stations, schools, universities, and hospitals re-opening. I will never forget that first time the national TV station decided to broadcast a song, sung by a woman. That was the first time I was hearing a woman’s voice through an Afghan TV station.

I remember my mom and my aunts cried for hours when they heard Salma’s voice through the national TV station. I did not know why they were crying but I was filled with joy and felt like a new day had dawned for Afghanistan.

In a couple of months, I enrolled in an official school.

Soon, my friends and I joined different youth groups and took many capacity building trainings. Everywhere we went there were talks of democracy, transitional justice, human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, women’s rights and so on.

We were convinced of the sacredness of these values and were committed to work for promotion of these values in our society. We started with fighting inside our homes, then with our relatives, then with the communities we were living in and later with the society, which saw our values as radical and westernised.

But we were convinced these universal values should be institutionalised in the hearts and minds of the people of Afghanistan. Taliban were bad, their values were bad, their approaches were bad.

17 years later, the Taliban are the new heroes. The Taliban are seen as the only way to peace in Afghanistan. The US is ready to compromise on everything that was brought to Afghanistan by its intervention. The peace negotiations are happening behind closed doors and that scares me.

There are thousands of questions and concerns about what is being agreed upon; what has changed about the Taliban? What are their new values, will they tolerate us? Will they kill whoever speaks against them? What kind of a government will they agree on? What happened to democracy, transitional justice and human rights?

Peace without a general consensus will not last long. The people of Afghanistan need to know what is going on behind the closed doors in Doha, we need to know what game is being played at the cost of our lives and faith, and our concerns should be taken into account.

(The author Nargis Azaryun, a student of political science at American University of Afghanistan. She was one of the three young women behind the documentary film Kabul Cards which was screened at the Mumbai Film Festival in 2012. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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