Afghan graduate student in US details her family’s desperate attempt to escape Kabul

Written by on August 18, 2021

Nasrin Nawa is a former journalist who was based in Kabul, Afghanistan. – (ABC)

(LINCOLN, Neb.) — Nasrin Nawa, a journalist from Kabul traveling to the U.S. for graduate school, was able to leave Afghanistan on Friday before the Taliban seized the capital. Unfortunately, she said her family members were not as lucky.

“On that day [the Taliban seized Kabul], everything was just a mess,” said Nawa. “My father took [my sister] to the airport, but it was a very crowded day. She was stuck in [a] traffic jam and I was just crying.”

Nawa’s sister is also a journalist in Afghanistan and she said she fears for her life.

“[I thought], ‘What if they find her on the street? What if something happened to her and she never arrives to the airport?'” Nawa asked.

Nawa, who is a Fulbright scholar attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that her sister’s flight was canceled and she feels “hopeless” about what’s ahead for her country.

“Everyone has some memories [of the] Taliban from the previous regime. It was so dark and so terrifying. It was full of cruelty and people just remember all the public executions,” said Nawa. “They will start taking away some people, specifically journalists, social activists [and] females who were active.”

The Pentagon said Monday that 6,000 U.S. troops are expected to arrive in Afghanistan to evacuate diplomats and civilians from Kabul, but for now, Nawa said that all other flights out of the country have been canceled.

Nawa said that women in Afghanistan went through a “transformation” in the 20 years since the fall of the Taliban and she fears that they’re headed back to square one.

“We could work, we could educate, we could lead. We had so many women in governments and nonprofit organizations that were leaders,” she said. “But now they’re stuck in their home with no other help.”

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid promised at a press conference Tuesday that women “will be afforded all their rights” under the new government.

“Whether it is at work or other activities, because women are a key part of society, and we are guaranteeing all their rights,” Mujahid said, though he added that would be “within the limits of Islam.”

Nawa said she has no trust in what the Taliban is currently telling people.

“We heard that and they constantly emphasize on this during the last year, but we have never believed — women like me don’t believe — these kind of words,” she said. “Because first they said, ‘OK, you can educate. You can go to work. You can be part of the society — but under the Sharia law.’ But he never gave any context of what Sharia law and we have different kind of definition for this Sharia law.”

On Monday, President Joe Biden stood by the White House’s decision to withdraw troops from America’s longest war.

“I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past — the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interests of the United States, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of U.S. forces,” Biden said.

Although she’s in the U.S. for now, Nawa said that she hopes she can go home to Afghanistan.

“I really deserve, like any other human in this world, to live in peace and use my potential,” said Nawa. “I would prefer to use it in my country.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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