Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor Simerg, Barakah and Simerg Photos
We have received a very reliable report by an Ismaili individual (name withheld) of the ground realities in Afghanistan following the recent swift and generally peaceful takeover of the country by the Taliban. The author is in contact with numerous Ismaili individuals in Kabul and around the country, and will be sending regular updates to Simerg. The editor is directly in contact with the individual, and will consolidate the reports received as “Letter from Afghanistan” until normality returns to the country.
The recent institutional announcement (read it HERE) as well as the AKDN press release of August 25, 2021 (read it HERE) has no doubt helped the spirit of the Jamat in Afghanistan during these extremely difficult days. However, there are difficulties being faced in the capital and elsewhere in the country, and many members of the Jamat are deeply apprehensive about what the future holds for them. This concern is noted in the letter below. Generally, we are pleased with the announcements that the Taliban has made regarding the safety and well being of every citizen of Afghanistan, including minority communities as well as the children and women of the country. However, there may be elements within the Taliban that are not abiding by the instructions of their Taliban leadership, bringing fear to many of the country’s citizens, especially those living outside the capital, Kabul.
We pray for safety and well-being of all the people of Afghanistan, and the members of the Ismaili Jamat.
Note: This report was submitted hours before the tragic suicide bombing near Kabul airport that resulted in dozens of death and injuries to Afghan civilians and US military personnel.
LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN: REALITIES ON THE GROUND
[REPORT #1]. THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2021
August 26, 2021: I am writing this letter to provide authentic information based on the ground realities and feedback from Jamats living in Afghanistan.
Afghan Ismaili Jamats are grateful to Ismaili Council for Afghanistan that has stayed beside the Jamat in this critical moment, and for providing instructions on how to deal with day to day challenges. It is a great honor for us as Ismailis who are able to continue practicing their faith without any fear and disruption after the entire country came under the control of Taliban. We appreciate the global Jamats’ sharing the same concern regarding their Ismaili brethren and sisters, offering their help and support for Afghan Ismailis in such a dire and critical moment.
As readers may be aware, the Taliban declared general amnesty for all public service employees, military and security members and even those who worked with foreign nationals. But practically, they are on the look out for those who had any ties with the former government or were associated with Western military or Western NGOS. Therefore, the Jamati members who worked with the Afghan Government or western organizations are concerned about their fate along with many youth members of the Jamat who joined the military post-Taliban in the early 2000’s.
The majority of the people, including members of the Afghan Ismaili Jamat living in the capital Kabul are afraid, unemployed and locked at home. The women and girls worry about their education, returning to their work, or even leaving home without a male companion. A vast percentage of the Jamat is unemployed in the cities governed by the Taliban militants. The remittance sent by family members living abroad to their immediate families in the country has been blocked, since Money Gram and Western Union Transfer are not available.
Generally, the people of Afghanistan and of course the Ismailis are concerned about the gains achieved and preserved during past two decades in human rights, freedom of speech, respect for the rights of women and minorities. Now, there is an element of uncertainty, and we are concerned about feeding our families and fulfilling our daily requirements. The education of the youth and and children in the upcoming future is also uncertain.
We are all hoping that the Ismaili National Council for Afghanistan, Jamati and Imamat institutions such as the Aga Khan Development Network will respond to this crisis we are facing in the best possible way.
The devotion, dedication and steadfastness shown by leadership in Afghanistan is highly appreciated. But, the leadership only assures them of their relative safety, issuing statements that ignores the concerns and anxieties of Afghan Jamats. We sincerely hope that the leadership in Afghanistan will share with the Jamats their plans and the measures they are taking on how they plan to overcome the confusion, crisis and chaos, and thus ease the burden that is in our hearts and minds with regard to our present situation as well as our future.
At last, I would like to express my gratitude and thankfulness for giving me the opportunity to provide a forum so that I am able to share the Afghan Jamat’s concerns and living conditions with your readers around the world.
I would like to assure the Jamats around the world that we are generally fine, and there is no threat to us. I wish to assure you that the information provided by me is authentic and reliable. Thank you.
Date posted: August 26, 2021.
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I am following the developments in Afghanistan through reliable news media. I am also aware of the anxieties and apprehension my Ismaili Muslim brothers and sisters in Afghanistan have in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover. The most recent statement made by the Taliban to Al-Jazeera (see https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/8/27/exclusive-taliban-plans-inclusive-caretaker-govt-in-afghanistan) that the Taliban will include leaders from all ethnicities and tribal backgrounds in the country in the caretaker government is indeed welcome.
Of course many may express doubts about the sincerity of the Taliban but I think it is important for everyone to give the Taliban a chance and hope that they do indeed fulfill their pledge. Inshallah, things will become clearer in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime it is to be hoped that all our institutions and Jamati members around the world will welcome those who have left Afghanistan with big generous hearts. The majority who remain must abide by some good institutional guidance to stay put, stay at home and not panic. Hopefully some material assistance will also come along. Let’s see how the international Jamats respond to the enormous challenges their spiritual brothers and sisters face in Afghanistan.
It is also my hope that the youth and professionals in the industrialized world will play their fair part, and take interest and show concern in the plight of their fellow colleagues in Afghanistan.
Ya Ali Madad:
The concerns of the Jamat in Afghanistan are high.
You cannot believe or have faith on Taliban words. I must note that all the Ismaili brothers and sisters in the country are not in the same situation as those who are in Kabul. Most of them live in northern areas where the Taliban militants have already killed and executed many minority leaders for rising against them. And financially most of the families were living their lives on monthly payrolls which has been stopped from the day Taliban entered the capital.
In his letter my brother says that the jamat are safe and no threat seems to be coming to them! I need to ask from all, so we should wait for the time when the Taliban militants comes to us and execute us like they did with 6 Hazara men in west Ghazni recently? Or should we sacrifice ourselves in suicide bomb attack from ISIS which is also a threat for all Afghans? No one wants to leave their country or home but for their lives. No nation, no people, no women, no youth, has ever faced and experienced the fear, war, blood, losses of family members, betrayal, and all the bad situation a human can bear in this world EVER…!!!
For more than 30 years we have lived a life like this. When I was born I lived my childhood as a refugee. In my teenage years I was dealing with civil wars and Taliban, and now also seeking for a place to safe our lives. DO WE DESERVE THIS??? When will this chaos end ?
I am asking: Can anyone guarantee my life under Taliban reign? Can anyone guarantee my mother and sisters right and future under the Taliban reign? If yes, then we will be SAFE…!!!
I pray to Maula that he gives us the strength to face this never ending fear and war once again, and that we should finally have peace. Indeed he knows the zahir and the batin.
The Afghan Ismaili communities are deeply concerned about their future. Everyone has lost their jobs and they are living in bad conditions now. I, as an Ismaili, make an appeal and request the AKDN board of members to take the condition of jamat very very seriously and find out the way forward for Jamat in this bad condition. We seem to have no hope for future.
To Baryalai and Lina: I have read your letters of concerns regarding your very serious situation. As a member of the Jamat in Canada where we have thousands of Ismailis from Afghanistan fairly well settled for over 20 years, I sympathize with your plight. However this situation has occurred very very fast and the entire country of Afghanistan and millions and millions of Afghans are impacted by the crisis.
So I would say to you, to be patient and I am sure the Jamati and Imamat institutions will come to the rescue. It is not easy to coordinate things overnight. I fully agree with the letter that the council should be more forthcoming about what their plans are for the coming period. I think in this crisis good communications can play a very constructive part in eliminating concerns and I hope the leadership will do this.
Hello, the situation of my country is deteriorating day by day, and life has become quite risky for me and my family. I am the only sponsor of my family and I really don’t know how to support my family. I heartily request you and Imamat institutions to assist and rescue us from this painful situation. Not only me, but there are many Ismaili brothers and sisters who have the same problem as me.