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The other Afghan women | The New Yorker

CNN aired an interview of General Sadat the day before the massacre at Yakh Chal post. He said, “Helmand’s beauty is if it’s peaceful. Tourism can come.” He stated that his soldiers were morally high and they are confident that they will defeat the Taliban. The anchor looked relieved. “You seem very optimist,” she stated. It’s very reassuring to know that.

Mohammed Wali was a handcart vendor in a village close to Lashkar Gah. I gave the interview. The Taliban took control of his area’s government militias a few days after the Yakh Chal massacre. General Sadat’s blackhawks started attacking homes in an apparent indiscriminate manner. Wali was shot at and his daughter, who was then hit with shrapnel in the head, died. His brother ran to the yard, grabbed the girl’s body and shouted at them. “We’re civilians!”He and Wali’s child were both killed by the helicopters. His wife lost her right leg and another daughter is currently in a coma. Wali sobbed when he saw the CNN clip. “Why are they doing that?” he asked. He asked. “Are these mocking us?”

In just a few hours, 32 of Amir Dado’s relatives and friends were killed by the Taliban. They killed the warlord himself, who had since joined Parliament, in a roadside blast three years later. Pan Killay was the mastermind behind the assassination. The attack could be seen as a sign of a fundamentalist rebellion against an internationally recognized government. In another, it could be a campaign to retaliate against their former tormentor. Or a volley against a long simmering tribe war. Or a drug cartel assault against a rival. These are all likely to be true simultaneously. The US has not tried building bridges and inclusive institutions to address these gaps. Instead it has intervened in a civil conflict and supported one side against another. Like the Soviets, Americans created two Afghanistans: one with endless conflict and one that is prosperous and hopeful.

The future of Afghanistan is looking bright after Taliban fighters stormed into Kabul in August – exactly as Hamdullah predicted. Many Afghans have been trying desperately to reach Kabul airport over the past weeks, believing that the Americans’ chaotic evacuation could be their last chance at a better future. “Bro, help me,” said the pilot in the helicopter I had spoken to over the phone. He was fighting with crowds to see the airport gate at the time. But when the last US aircraft took off from the runway he stayed there. Sami Sadat, his boss, is believed to have fled to Great Britain.

The Kabul from which Sadat fled felt, up until recently, like a completely different country or a different century than Sangin. The capital had developed into a vibrant city, with brightly lit wedding halls, neon billboards, and lights on the hills. It is difficult to comprehend the achievements of these women during the American war, which they now regret. The Afghan parliament had about the same number of women as the US Congress. And around a quarter of its university students were female. Many women in Kabul fear that the Taliban are not developing. I reached out to a dermatologist via phone, who was locked in her own home at the end August. She has been to many countries and now runs a large clinic with 12 women. She told me, “I worked too much to get there.” “I studied too long, I started my own business, I started my own clinic. That was my lifelong dream. ”She hadn’t been outside for over two weeks.

The Taliban takeover has brought order back to the conservative landscape, and plunged Kabul’s relatively liberal streets into fearful and hopeless. This turning point reveals an unspoken truth of the past 20 years: Urban life could thrive if US troops continue to fight Taliban in the countryside. This project may have been sustainable – the Taliban could not conquer cities in the presence of the US Air Force. Was it fair? Is it possible for the rights of one community to be affected by the disenfranchisement or other rights in the long-term? When I brought up the question of gender in Sangin, the women from the village were hostile. Pazaro said, “They give rights for women in Kabul but they kill women here.” Is that justice? Marzia from Pan Killay said to me that these were not women’s’ rights if we kill each other, our brothers, or our fathers. Khalida, a villager nearby, said that the Americans had not given us rights. They just came, fought, died, and then left.

The Helmand women are divided on the rights they should enjoy. Some women long for the village rules to be broken down. They want to go to the market, or enjoy a picnic along the canal. Others stick with more traditional interpretations. Shakira explained to me, “Women are not the same.” “All are created by God. Each one has his or her role and strengths that the other lacks.” She wished she could leave him, even though her husband was in an opium stupor. Nilofar is now a teenager and divorce could be a shame for the family and impact their prospects. Shakira is familiar with stories about cities that are void of love and full of prostitution. She stated that too much freedom is dangerous because people don’t know how to limit it.

All of the women I met in Sangin agreed that their rights can’t be achieved by a gun barrel. They also believed that women must have better living conditions. Some villages believe they have an important cultural resource to wage the struggle: Islam. Pazaro explained to me that the Taliban claim women can’t go outside. However, there is no Islamic rule. “As long we are covered, we should be permitted.” I asked a prominent Helmandi Taliban scholar what Islam says about women not being allowed to go to school or the market. I was slightly annoyed when he admitted that this wasn’t an Islamic order. “It’s the culture in the village, not Islam,”He stated. “The local people have certain beliefs about women and we adhere to them. These women are hoping to create their faith, the common language that spans all borders, in order to have greater freedom. Islam provides a more equitable model for divorce, marriage, and inheritance than tribal and village norms.

Even though Shakira doesn’t talk much about it, she still dreams of such dreams. She learned to read over the years and is now working her own way through the Koran’s Pashtu translation, sura by sura. “That gives me great comfort,”She said. She teaches her youngest daughter alphabet and has a bold ambition to get her friends to build a girls’ school.

Shakira considers moving Pan Killay ahead, but she is determined to keep his memory alive. She told me that the cemetery in the village stretches over several hills. There are no flags, memorial plaques, or flags. It is just piles and piles that glow pink in the evening sunshine. From each grave protrude two empty stone slabs, one for the head and one for the feet.

Shakira’s family visits every week and she points to the hills where her grandfather lies, where her cousins ​​lie, because she doesn’t want her children to forget. They attach shawls to branches and pray to the dead. Shakira feels rejuvenated when she spends hours in the sacred landscape of rocks, bushes, and streams.

Just before leaving, the Americans destroyed their house in an apparent response to the Taliban shooting a nearby grenade. The house, which still has two rooms, is now half-habitable and half-destroyed, just like Afghanistan. She said that she didn’t mind the empty kitchen or the gaping hole in the pantry. Instead, she chooses to look at a village in rebirth. Shakira knows that the newly paved road will lead to her house. The macadam is hot in summer. The only birds that will fly are those with feathers. Nilofar will marry and their children go to school on the canal. They have hairbrushes that can be used on the dolls. Shakira will have a machine to wash clothes. Your husband will be clean. He will admit his mistakes and tell his family that they are important to him. You will travel to Kabul, where you will be standing in the shadows of enormous glass buildings. “I have to believe,” she stated. “Otherwise it would be a waste of time.”Otherwise what was it all about?” ♦

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