Exclusive Interview: Afghan Resident Speaks To Indie Journal About Life After Taliban Takeover
Hamidullah Mohammadi, a resident of Herat, says his future is bleak and seeks a way out of the country fearing for his family's life.
Around a week ago, Afghanistan’s cultural capital and one of the largest cities in the country, Herat, was taken over by Talibani forces. While Herat is known to be one of the more progressive urban centers in Afghanistan, the Taliban takeover has left it unclear what will be the situation in the city henceforth.
The international media showed pictures of girls in hijab resuming schools in Herat yesterday. However, as per Hamidullah Mohammadi (HM), Afghan national and resident of Herat whom Indie Journal’s (IJ) Prajakta Joshi interviewed, the situation is uncertain and far from normal. Here are the excerpts from his conversation with Indie Journal.
IJ: Where are you based in Afghanistan at the moment? What is the situation there?
HM: I am in Herat city at the moment. Herat is one of the biggest provinces of Afghanistan. Less than one week ago, it fell to the Taliban. Schools and universities here were closed until two days ago, but now, schools have been opened for up to class 9. Taliban members are in the center of the city with AK-47 RPGs, and some other weapons. People of this city do not have the courage even to leave their houses.
IJ: Are you and your family safe?
HM: My family and I are in hiding at the moment. My life is in danger as I worked with the US forces as well as some international organisations like WFP, World Vision and Supreme Group. I didn’t seek a US visa earlier because I did not have plans to leave my country. I also pursued my higher education at the University of Pune, if the Taliban finds my documents, they might kill me.
IJ: Why is that?
HM: I came to know that the Taliban killed one Afghan resident, who had graduated from Ukraine. Now I am afraid they will kill me. They don’t have the knowledge to read the documents.
IJ: What has Afghanistan been like for women since the Taliban has taken over?
HM: Women are not leaving their homes since the Taliban takeover. They cannot go to work in government offices. They cannot join any celebrations or any social conference. The appearance of women has decreased in the city.
My wife is a student at the University of Herat. She was studying German there. However, now she will not be able to attend her classes, so she has been insisting that we leave the country soon. If we leave, she will be able to go to a university somewhere.
Most of my family are trying to get a visa and passport to leave the country. They cannot tolerate the Taliban government.
IJ: What are the challenges in getting a visa to any country from Afghanistan?
HM: At present, almost all embassies are closed in Afghanistan, just Russia, Iran, Turkey and Tajikistan’s embassies exist, but they are not functional. Some of my family members have already left the country when the Taliban entered the city.
It costs a lot of money to get a visa and leave here. It starts normally from around 3,000 US dollars and ranges up to 10,000 US dollars. Some spend more and some less. It depends on the way of leaving the country.
IJ: So it will be difficult for a lot of people to leave with such high costs...
HM: Yes definitely. Some of them are hopeless, and some of them sell whatever they have.
Now, if Iran opens its border, I think most people in Herat city will leave. The Iran border is closer, but it’s closed. Iran has not given permission to Afghan people to enter. Yesterday, some people went to the border without passports and visa, but they could not cross.
Some people from Herat are also travelling by bus to Kabul to leave the country from there. However, all the highways are in the hands of the Taliban, and it’s dangerous to travel that way as well.
IJ: What would you tell the world about Afghanistan at the moment?
HM: I would also like to say something, especially to US President Joe Biden. Your speech on Afghanistan was "great" to the American people. But your words had only internal consumption. How does the United States, the world's military and economic superpower, answer these questions:
Wasn't system building in Afghanistan a tool for your policy in the region, why did you fail?
Weren't Karzai and Ghani your main figures and did you not impose them on the people?
Wasn't the war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan 'your' war? Now, why should Afghans take responsibility for this war?
Is Mr. John Kerry dead to answer two crucial decisions in the election, when you say you did not come to build democracy for us?
Is Mr. Khalilzad dead, who used one telephone call to move out ministers, governors and commanders of the system, while you say that you had nothing to do with state-building?
We definitely need help and I wish the world helps us to get out of this problem. If they do not help us today, tomorrow it will be a big problem for the whole world. Our national hero, the martyr Ahmad Shah Massoud, said years ago that the world should pay attention.