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TV host turns refugee, businesses kaput — Afghans detail Taliban impact in searing Twitter post

Many Afghan citizens shared their plight on a Twitter post that asked them about their life pre-Taliban and how it has changed since. 

Samyak Pandey
Taliban members hold the insurgent group's flags | Representational Image| Photographer: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images via Bloomberg
Taliban members hold the insurgent group's flags | Representational Image| Photographer: Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images via Bloomberg

New Delhi:  In a heartbreaking series of replies to a tweet, scores of Afghan citizens, both living abroad and in the country, have shared stories of how their lives have changed drastically ever since the Taliban assumed power in the country on 15 August. 

All of them were responding to a tweet that read: “What was your profession when Afghanistan was free? And what do you do now? #FreeAfghanistan”. 

The tweet was put out on 12 October by Habib Khan, founder of Afghan Peace Watch and a former journalist with the Wall Street Journal

Among the most tragic comments was one made by a woman called Sada Mahnaz. “I was a doctor and field surgeon. My mom was a police lieutenant, she was assassinated for being just that,” she tweeted. “Now, I am still those things… but there is a hole in my heart. As this has only brought such horrific and terrifying memories back… I keep on, with manufactured hope.”

There was a similar heartbreaking reply from Tamanna Shams. “I was a freelance photographer and now a refugee. I used to portray the beauties of Afghanistan and show the world to change their mindset about Afghanistan through my photography but I have been proved wrong. All was just a dream,” she tweeted.

Several media personnel revealed that they have lost their jobs. 

Ilyas Mansoor, who according to his Twitter bio is a former employee of Afghanistan’s Tolo News, tweeted: “I was news presenter and now I’m a refugee”. 

Another journalist, Khalid Amiri, whose bio says he worked with RTA (Radio Television of Afghanistan) and formerly with Khyber News TV as an anchor, replied: “I was serving the state broadcaster Television RTA (Radio Television of Afghanistan) and now living as a refugee.”

Also read: Pakistani Pashtuns have a message for Imran Khan—‘we are not Taliban’

Many women share plight

This is the second stint in power for the Taliban, who earlier ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 under a brutal set of rules — inspired by their interpretation of the Sharia — that forced women to stay at home, outlawed music that wasn’t of a religious nature, and decreed ruthless public punishments for crimes. Even adultery reportedly earned people death by public stoning.

While the Taliban returned to power with a promise of a reformed rule, reports from the country suggest otherwise.

Among the Afghans who shared the plight of their professional lives on the thread, there was a clear majority of women who have lost their jobs and have no option but to stay back home. “I was a student at Kabul Medical University, but now locked at home,” tweeted Zakia Menhas. 

Another woman, Tamana Momandzy, tweeted, “I was a prosecutor, but now I spend my days reading books and teaching math to girls who can not go to school.”

Another Twitter user who goes by the name Fooman Forough replied, “I was Director-General of Kabul River Basin at NWARA (National Water Affairs Regulation Authority) now I am at home and lost my job and hopes.”

For Hawa Alam Nuristani, the regime change has meant she lost her job as “chairwoman of Afghanistan Election Commission”. “…And now I am at home!” she tweeted.  

There are also stories on the thread of how small business ventures have gone kaput.  

Amina Fariwar, owner of Amina Stores, tweeted: “I was a student of BBA at Kabul University and an entrepreneur; I had 2 online stores and I had so many brand new projects for them like selling Afghan widows and orphan kids handmade products without any commission to help them support themselves financially. And now I’m nothing.” 

J.S. Jigdalak, who claimed to be a gemologist and passionate gemstone buyer, tweeted: “I have had a flourishing private business which was not only limited to Afghanistan but also extended to India, China and Thailand. Now that the Taliban has arrived, everything is over. I also left Afghanistan. Now I am in a struggle to re-start my own business out of Afghanistan.”

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Pakistan wants an Afghanistan acceptable to the West — Islam plus democracy



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