“Our lives, the hopeless Afghans, are at stack” - Plataforma Media

“Our lives, the hopeless Afghans, are at stack”

The international community is cautiously observing the Taliban’s governance in Afghanistan. In the country, thousands of people are displaced; beyond the political crisis, there are unemployment, hunger, and the drought that devastates the country… “The war is over”, Mirwais Maiwandwal said, the former newsdesk manager of the Weesa Daily, one of the largest independent newspapers in Afghanistan. However, the new Government leaves an enormous uncertainty in the air; and despite the return to peace, “the social, economic and political situation worsened”.

Mirwais Maiwandwal

1. Can you tell us more details on how is the actual reality over there now in Afghanistan, especially in the capital Kabul? In terms of society, economics, and political aspects.

Overall, the security situation has become much better with the fall of Islamic Republic, previous government. We are no longer witnessing huge attacks, suicide bombings, and targeted killings at major cities. The rural Afghanistan is also experiencing a period of calm and peace after two decades of war. Rural Afghans were always living in constant fear of bombardment from International Coalition Forces, aerial attacks, nightly raids and were basically stranded in armed fighting between Taliban and Afghan Government. In summary the war has ended. But situation in social, economic and political aspects of life has become worsen due to the current uncertainty. The participation of people and especially women in civil societies, media and other fields has been decreased dramatically.

Although, almost half of the population were already living below the poverty line, but after the collapse of Kabul, Afghans are economically more desperate than ever. The government employees have not been paid for months now, the private sector and business has been shut due to uncertain future, and they are limitation placed on banking sector.

After the collapse of previous Afghan government and complete takeover of the Taliban the country was in a complete political vacuum. Last Tuesday, September 7th, 2021 Taliban announce their cabinet, but the country was in a political vacuum and effective public sector leadership for 23 days. Even this announced cabinet is partial still. Afghans are yet to know about the judiciary system of the Taliban’s Government, as the Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court are not included in the announced list. In addition to this, other than embassies of a handful countries, all embassies are closed and international community is yet to recognize the government of the Taliban. We hope with the announcement of the leadership and cabinet the country will move in right direction, and Afghanistan will be no longer in isolation from rest of the world.

2. Do you or the people around you feel any feel intimidated and threatened?

I myself and people I know are not threatened directly yet. The Taliban has announced general amnesty for their opponents. But every now and then we have reports from different parts of the country, saying that individuals are targeted and harassed. On one instance, a woman and former police officer in Ghor province was brutally killed. A young claiming to be her son appeared in a video, and said the perpetrators were claiming to be Taliban and killed his pregnant mother. The spokesman for the Taliban denied the group’s involvement in the heinous attack, and said they were investigating the incident. Remember, Ghor is a far remote province in western Afghanistan. Access to credible information and verifying such contradictory statements is very difficult nowadays.

3. Taliban had promised a peaceful transition, do you believe so? Why?

 As far my personal experience and engagement with the Group’s armed members in public sphere and various checkpoints in capital city, Kabul, they are soft and behaving in a relatively civil manner. When it comes to their promises of a peaceful transition, they have to prove it in their actions. At the end of the day, it is actions that matter, not sugarcoated words and empty promises. 

4. After the U.S. was set to complete its troop withdrawal and the Taliban have seized power in Afghanistan, Chinese official media said China is going to respect Afghan people’s right to decide their own destiny even with the new government. What is the Afghan people’s actual choice and what Afghan people wish for?

Afghans want an inclusive, competent, and professional leadership and government. We want to see representation from all walks of the society in our government. Top managerial positions in ministries must be given to the professional cadets of the country, disregarding of their religious, sectarian and ideological believes, and their ethnicity. This can be achieved when the people have a say in policymaking, and electing their leaders. At the moment Taliban doesn’t seem to be in favor of election.

When it comes to China’s future engagement in Afghanistan we wish it will be a win-win relationship for both nations. Afghanistan is a developing nation, and now with the cut of foreign aid, which made around 75 percent of the country’s GDP, we need foreign investment in different sectors. China as second largest economy of the world and also as a powerful country in the region can play a vital rule in rebuilding and boosting Afghan economy.

As China has already signed contracts of some of the largest mining projects with previous Afghan government. Unfortunately, due to insecurity, armed conflicts and instability in Afghanistan these projects never started and made impacted as they were planned. Now the peace and stability are on the horizon in Afghanistan, I hope these megaprojects will start.

We Afghans hope that our national interests will not be compromised in these bilateral relations, as was the case with US and some other powerful western nations in the last two decades. Each and every project or other engagements must impact our lives for better and bring prosperity to the country, other than that it will be futile.

5. A lot of Afghanistan people fled and escaped from the country, after the U.S. withdrew their military from Afghanistan and left the region facing uncertainty, have you ever thought of leaving your country? Why?

The botched-up withdrawal of US and NATO Forces, and swift and unexpected collapse of the Afghan government made people hopeless. People feared retribution from Taliban and thought their dreams were shattered over the night. The only hope for the survival was to leave their homeland. I strongly believe the US intentionally created this situation of disparity.

To be honest, if the status quo persists, I will not be left with other option but to leave my beloved homeland. I have lost my job as journalist, and I cannot see in near future to work freely as journalist in the country. In recent days, multiple Afghan journalists were detained for covering anti-Taliban protests in Kabul. The situation for journalists and free media is very concerning. If Taliban form an inclusive government and they remain committed to free speech and free media, I will never ever leave my country. But if I cannot practice the profession I loved all my life, and if I cannot live a dignified life here in Afghanistan, I will have to leave the country someday. I wish we are not forced by the situation to leave our beloved homeland.

6. We want to raise the public awareness and concern of Afghanistan’s situation in the Chinese and Portuguese community, do you have any message that you want to deliver to the international readers? Is there any international aid that Afghanistan people are looking for?

I would like the ordinary citizens of the planet earth to not turn a blind-eye to Afghanistan. As fellow humans they must feel morally responsible to the Afghans. As taxpayers, they should pressure their respected governments to remain doors open to those Afghans who are facing existential and potential threats, and also help Afghanistan.

Due to recent developments in Afghanistan a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in the country. The International Community must act responsibly and on time. Thousands of the Afghan families are internally displaced due to recent armed conflicts, unemployment and climate changes. I am deeply worried about the food shortages. Afghanistan is not isolated from the effects of the climate changes. The country is already experiencing a serious drought in some parts of the country. The western countries, especially the USA who has frozen national assets of the Afghan nation, must prioritize the benefits of poor Afghans over their imperial interests. Our lives, the hopeless Afghans, are at stack. We are 35 million in this war-torn country. Only a few thousands were fortunate to make to the West.

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