Insights from Around the World: UNHCR on the Mistreatment of non-European Refugees; and The Guardian on the Racist Coverage of Ukraine

Compiled by MALIK MERCHANT

Rockets have been “raining down” on Ukraine’s cities and hundreds of people have been killed or injured since the Russian military offensive began. On March 1, 2022, the UN Secretary-General launched a $1.7 billion flash appeal to provide urgently-needed assistance. In this photo, spent pieces of a rocket lie next to a playground, with military operations ongoing in Kyiv, Ukraine. Photo: © UNICEF/Andrii Marienko/UNIAN

“….the very concept of providing refuge is not and should not be based on factors such as physical proximity or skin color, and for a very good reason. If our sympathy is activated only for welcoming people who look like us or pray like us, then we are doomed to replicate the very sort of narrow, ignorant nationalism that war promotes in the first place.” — Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

UNHCR Dismayed at Mistreatment of non-European Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has expressed dismay over reports that foreigners fleeing Ukraine amid its war with Russia are experiencing mistreatment and pleaded for more humanity and compassion for non-Europeans and refugees from other nations. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi spoke out about reports that have emerged of discrimination against non-Ukrainian or non-European refugees at some entry points and people’s reference to them using discriminatory or racist terminology. He quoted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying that “there should be absolutely no discrimination between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians, Europeans and non-Europeans,” as all are at risk.

Refugees entering Poland from Ukraine at the Medyka border crossing point. Photo: © UNHCR/Chris Melzer

The Guardian – They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine

By MOUSTAFA BAYOUMI

Moustafa Bayoumi has analyzed the racism factor in the way the media has been reporting the refugee situation and asks: “Are Ukrainians more deserving of sympathy than Afghans and Iraqis?” And he observes, “Many seem to think so,” based on his in-depth look at what has been said and written in the media as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee Ukraine to seek protection in neighbouring countries following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a week ago.

“What all these petty, superficial differences – from owning cars and clothes to having Netflix and Instagram accounts – add up to is not real human solidarity for an oppressed people. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s tribalism. These comments point to a pernicious racism that permeates today’s war coverage and seeps into its fabric like a stain that won’t go away. The implication is clear: war is a natural state for people of color, while white people naturally gravitate toward peace” — Moustafa Bayoumi, The Guardian

Moustafa Bayoumi, is professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and contributing opinion writer at Guardian US as well as author of the award-winning books How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. Please read Bayoumi’s complete article in The Guardian by clicking They are ‘civilised’ and ‘look like us’: the racist coverage of Ukraine.

Date posted: March 3, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Insights from Around the World: The 1992-97 Civil War in Tajikistan and the Architecture of International Involvement in the Peace Process

“Given the great moral authority of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan over the Ismaili population of Badakhshan, Special Envoy Piriz-Ballon [of UN Secretary General Boutro Boutro Ghali], and Special Representative Gerd Merrem [of Germany] consulted him on issues related to the peace process. His visits to the country, informal mediating role and moderating influence significantly contributed to the success of the peace process. The Aga Khan Foundation made major contributions to alleviating the humanitarian crisis, particularly in the eastern part of the country [i.e Gorno-Badakhshan, see map, below].” — Vladimir Goryayev (note: words in square brackets inserted for clarity — ed.)

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, SimergBarakah, and Simergphotos)

Some readers, and especially those engaged in the research and study of Tajikistan, may already be familiar with the details of the civil war that broke out in 1992 following Tajikistan’s withdrawal from the Soviet Union on September 9, 1991. The civil war was at its peak during its first year and dragged on for five years, with different interest groups vying for control of the new state. An estimated 20,000 to 100,000 people were killed by June 1997 and about 10 to 20 percent of the population were internally displaced. The war devastated the country.

Very little, however, may be known about the peace process that was underway during this period of civil unrest. In the Accord issue of April 2001, published by Conciliation Resources, numerous authors take an in-depth look at what was an exceptionally well-coordinated peace process that involved local civil society, the international community and a newly established Commission for National Reconciliation. The 100 page PDF publication, “Politics of Compromise: The Tajikistan Peace Process” edited by Kamoludin Abdullaev and Catherine Barnes may be downloaded by clicking HERE.

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Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.
Map of Tajikistan with surrounding countries from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas. Click on map for enlargement.

In a chapter entitled “Architecture of International Involvement in the Tajik Peace Process,” from which the quote on Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, at the beginning of this post is taken, author Vladimir Goryayev examines the role of regional intergovernmental organisations, international NGOs, regional peacekeepers, and the UN’s special envoys, departments and humanitarian agencies played in the peace process. He concludes by setting out the widely acknowledged strengths of the Tajik model of international involvement as well as some lesser known problems with it. Please click HERE to download Vladimir Goryayev PDF article or read the article by visiting THIS PAGE.

Date posted: March 1, 2022.

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Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

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Featured photo at top of post

Aga Khan in Tajikistan, the Ismaili, simerg,
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, pictured in Tajikistan during his first historic visit to the country in May 1995. Photo: The Ismaili, Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Central Asia, 22-31 May 1995.
A man uses a makeshift carrier for providing tea drinking service at Kabul's Kote Sangi commercial hub sector of the city

Afghanistan Update: Misery and Humanitarian Crisis in Country is Overshadowed by Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – Experts Call for Lifesaving Assistance to Afghanistan

Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

For the past week, the world’s attention has dramatically shifted from the misery that Afghanistan is facing to the invasion of Ukraine by the armed forces of Russia. The Ukraine war is indeed very very serious and frightening, especially with Russian President Putin asking his country’s nuclear deterrent forces to be on high alert. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian residents are escaping from the war, and showing up as refugees in neighbouring countries. While this tragedy in Eastern Europe unfolds, we should also remain focused on the humanitarian crisis that is in Afghanistan.

Two countries facing humanitarian crisis — Ukraine and Afghanistan (both circled). Image: Map adapted from Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.

In addition to our special correspondent in Kabul sending us his reports in the form of Letter from Afghanistan (please see Simerg’s Special Afghanistan Page), we also rely on authentic and accurate coverage of Afghanistan from the world media. In this respect, we find the Voice of America (VOA) to be a reliable and very useful source of information through reports that are produced on its website from journalists such as Ayaz Gul in Islamabad, Ayesha Tanzeem, who heads VOA’s Pakistan and Afghanistan bureau in Islamabad, and Lisa Schlein in Geneva. They are fair and factual in their news and commentary about the situation in the country.

To keep our readers up to date about the various aspects of life in Afghanistan, we share below a compilation from stories that appeared on VOA this past week, between February 23 and February 27, 2022. Readers may access VOA’s full coverage as well as special episodes on Afghanistan by clicking on VOA: Central and South Asia.

1. Experts: More Than Half of Afghanistan’s Population Need Lifesaving Assistance

People reach out to receive bread, in Kabul, Afghanistan, January. 31, 2022. Photo: VOA file photo

By LISA SCHLEIN, VOA

Humanitarian experts warn that more than 24 million people, or 59% of Afghanistan’s population, are living on starvation diets and forced to take extreme measures to survive. Eight senior emergency experts from U.N. and non-governmental organizations recently concluded a five-day mission to Afghanistan. They describe the level of humanitarian needs as unprecedented. They say they are shocked at the enormity of human suffering they witnessed. The experts say many Afghans will not survive the dire conditions under which they are living without international support. And this, they note is severely lacking. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA) reports only 13 percent of the United Nations’ $4.44 billion appeal for this year has been funded. OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told VOA the competition for donor support from a myriad of countries including Ukraine, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of Congo is intense and growing. Nevertheless, he said the plight of the Afghan people must not and cannot be ignored.

“People’s reserves are exhausted, forcing many into harmful coping mechanisms to survive, including child marriages and child labor. Women and girls in particular are affected with their human rights, participation in society, their ability to work, and access to education under threat,” he said. Laerke said the number of people requiring lifesaving assistance has risen 30% since the Taliban takeover of the country in August. He said the consequences of not responding to their needs are very stark. “It simply means that women who are pregnant will not have a hospital to go to for giving birth…We talk about girls and their access to school but here — this means that nobody goes to school… Peoples’ need for nutrition and food will not be met. People simply will not have enough to eat. They will starve,” he said. Laerke said donors’ fear that their money will go to the Taliban and not toward helping the Afghan people is unwarranted. He said all the money goes to the U.N. and private humanitarian organizations for which it is intended. Over the past months, he says aid agencies have been able to scale up their operations without interference to provide life-saving assistance to people in desperate need. (VOA full report HERE)

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2. All Public Universities in Afghanistan Open to Male, Female Students

Students attend a class in the Badakshan University after Afghanistan’s main universities reopened, in Fayzabad on Feb. 26, 2022. Photo: AP via VOA

By AYAZ GUL, VOA

Public universities in Afghanistan’s colder areas, including Kabul, reopened Saturday, February 26, 2022, to both male and female students six months after the Islamist Taliban returned to power. The reopening marked the resumption of education in all of about 40 state-run universities in Afghanistan after Taliban authorities allowed university students earlier this month to return to their classes in provinces with a warm climate. The opening day at the country’s oldest and biggest university in the Afghan capital as well as campuses elsewhere was marred by low attendance and a lack of teaching staff. University administrations enforced gender segregation, including staggered operating hours and separate classes for men and women in accordance with the Taliban’s strict interpretation of Islam. Women must also wear hijabs. The Taliban banned co-education after taking control of Afghanistan on Aug. 15 [2021].

Students’ reaction was mixed after their first day back on Saturday. “I am very happy today as the Islamic Emirate reopened our universities,” Razia Kamal, a female student, was quoted by the Afghan TOLO news channel as saying. The Islamic Emirate is the official name of the Taliban government. In Kabul, student Haseenat said campus life for women was now very different than it was before. “There is no cafeteria anymore … we are not allowed to go to the university’s courtyard.”

“I am happy that the university resumed … we want to continue our studies,” said an English major who asked to be identified only as Basira. There was also a shortage of lecturers, she said, adding: “Maybe because some have left the country.” Tens of thousands of mostly educated Afghans have left the country fearing Taliban reprisals since the United States and other Western nations withdrew their troops in late August after a 20-year occupation.

In the western Afghan city of Herat, students also complained about a lack of tutors. “Some of our professors have also left the country, but we are happy that the university gates are open,” said Parisa Narwan, an arts major. The Taliban allowed males and females to resume education in some 150 private universities in the country in September under a gender-segregated classroom system. But they took time to reopen public universities, citing financial constraints and a lack of separate classrooms for men and women in accordance with Islamic Sharia law.

“It’s a positive move albeit late,” said Mohsin Amin, an Afghan policy analyst and researcher. “It’s of utmost importance to enhance the quality of education in all universities across Afghanistan for girls and address the scarcity of female teachers as well as professors.

“High schools for girls in all provinces should resume as soon as possible,” Amin told VOA. While the Taliban allowed boys to rejoin secondary schools in early September, most Afghan girls are still waiting for permission to resume class. Taliban officials have pledged to allow all girls to be back in school in late March, dismissing fears they intend to ban female education, as happened during the hardline group’s previous rule from 1996-2001. (VOA full report HERE)

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3. US to Allow All Commercial Transactions with Afghanistan

A man uses a makeshift carrier for providing tea drinking service at Kabul's Kote Sangi commercial hub sector of the city
A man uses a makeshift carrier for providing tea drinking service at Kabul’s Kote Sangi commercial hub sector of the city. Sunday May 29, 2021. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

By VOA NEWS

The U.S. Treasury on Friday [February 25, 2022] issued a new general license authorizing all commercial transactions with Afghanistan’s governing institutions, expanding recently announced exemptions from sanctions against the Taliban and the Haqqani network. The new license, the seventh issued by Treasury in recent months, allows “all transactions involving Afghanistan and its governing institutions that would otherwise be prohibited by U.S. sanctions,” the Treasury Department said.

The action came after talks between the Treasury Department and private sector executives doing business in Afghanistan and is similar to a series of sanctions exemptions granted in recent months to nongovernmental organizations. “Our action today recognizes that in light of this dire crisis, it is essential that we address concerns that sanctions inhibit commercial and financial activity while we continue to deny financial resources to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and other malign actors,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement. Wide-ranging U.S. economic sanctions against the Taliban date to their first time in power in the 1990s. However, in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August, the Treasury Department has issued a series of sanctions exemptions to allow Afghanistan to cope with a teetering economy and a humanitarian crisis. “There are too many Afghans starving today, too many Afghans who are cold; we all need to act faster,” a senior administration official told reporters during a press call announcing the general license. (VOA full report HERE)

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4. New Wave of COVID-19, Measles Outbreak Stretch Fragile Afghan Health System

An Afghan patient infected with COVID-19 lies on a bed in the intensive care unit of the Afghan Japan Communicable Disease Hospital, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 7, 2022. Photo: AP/via VOA

By AYAZ GUL, VOA

Aid groups warned Wednesday [February 23, 2022] that a spike in COVID-19 infections and an alarming measles outbreak have compounded the health emergencies in Afghanistan, stretching the impoverished, war-torn country’s fragile health care system. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement that urgent global support, including health and testing services, as well as vaccinations, was needed to slow the spread of the coronavirus that is surging across Afghanistan.

“A new wave is hitting Afghanistan hard. Testing is inadequate, and the World Health Organization reports that almost half of tested samples are coming back positive, indicating an alarming spread of the virus,” the statement added.

It said the underfunded and understaffed national health system was struggling to cope with the surge in cases. Dozens of COVID-19 health facilities have closed because they didn’t have enough medicines, essential medical supplies and funds to pay the utilities and health workers’ salaries.

The aid group said that fewer than 10 of the country’s 37 public COVID-19 health facilities remained functional, and that they were unable to keep up with demand. Only 10% of the country’s estimated population of 40 million is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Mawlawi Mutiul Haq Khales, the acting president of Afghan Red Crescent, stressed the need for increasing the number of functional health facilities so that pressure can be eased on the few functioning hospitals.

“As the number of COVID-19 infections increases from cities to remote corners of the country, the international community needs to open up the doors to support critical health care, testing and other essential services before it’s too late for the people of Afghanistan,” Khales said. The IFRC noted in its statement that the measles outbreak has infected thousands and killed dozens of people in the last month in Afghanistan.

“The measles outbreak is alarming since Afghanistan is in the middle of one of the worst droughts and food crises in decades, leaving children malnourished and far more vulnerable to the highly contagious disease,” said Necephor Mghendi, IFRC’s country head.

Doctors Without Borders, an international charity known by its French acronym MSF, said in a separate statement that most of its programs, including those in southern Helmand and western Herat provinces, have seen high numbers of patients. It described the malnutrition rates as concerning.

“MSF is treating a high number of patients with measles in our projects in Helmand and Herat. Our teams are concerned about how the situation will progress unless more children are vaccinated against the disease,” the charity said. The ripple effect of long-running sanctions on the Taliban and the financial measures against the new rulers in Afghanistan are being felt nationwide, according to MSF. (VOA full report HERE)

Date posted: February 28, 2022.

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Please also see VOA Special Project: Afghan Families Begin a New Chapter.

Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos.

Letter from Afghanistan [6] – Simerg’s Special Correspondent Visits Ismaili Families in Sia Sang, a Remote Village in Wardak, Central Afghanistan

[This is our Kabul based special correspondent’s sixth report to provide the global Ismaili Jamat and our readers with reliable information regarding recent development in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. His previous letters can be read by clicking on the following links 1. August 26 2021, 2. August 29 2021, 3. September 5 2021, 4. December 4 2021 and 5. December 5 2021 — Ed.]

LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN

FEBRUARY 13, 2022

Ismailis in Remote Villages Face Hardships Due to Meagre Food Reserves and Difficult Health Conditions: Local Jamati Institutions Have Failed to Meet Their Needs Over the Years

Please click on photos for enlargement

Sia sang- Bai Qobi - houses were once inhabited by Ismailis,
These houses in Sia sang — Bai Qobi — were once inhabited by Ismailis. They left the country upon the first reign of the Taliban. The houses are now occupied by Twelver Hazaras who are involved in farming activities in this village. Photo: Simerg Special Correspondent.

BY SIMERG’S SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT IN KABUL

Dear Jamats:

In my effort to continue to provide the world wide Ismaili Jamat with updates and insights about the latest developments in Afghanistan, I took the initiative to visit small villages in the remotest corners of the country. This report is based on interviews I conducted with five Ismailis in Sia Sang village, a remote village located in mountainous areas of Hesa-e-Awal Behsood, a district in the central province of Wardak (see map, below). I visited this gregarious small village which is mainly inhabited by Hazara ethnic minority. According to my information, once over 80 Ismaili families lived in Sia Sang. Now, only a small fraction of Ismailis, six households, live altogether. The vast majority that remain in the village are Twelver Shiites (Ithnasharies). The people of Afghanistan face an uncertain future, unemployment, poverty, hunger and drought since the Taliban takeover of the country on August 15, 2021.

The Ismaili villagers I met are surrounded by high mountains and hills and have been adversely affected by the recent upheavals as well. They are struggling with the current financial and economic crisis looming across the country. Afghanistan’s economy was facing severe challenges, and the international support was starting to wane even before the collapse of former western-backed government. The US congressional research noted that this past year 90 percent of Afghanistan’s population lived on less than US$ 2.00 a day, and warned that the loss of American support would weaken one of the world’s smallest economy.

Concerns about food insecurity are mounting and a looming drought is expected to make matters worse. The prices of food and other basic goods have soared and even doubled after the regime change in the country.

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Wardak, Bamyan and Kabul Maps Simerg
Enlarged map of the Afghan provinces of Bamyan, Kabul and Wardak. The author of this piece visited the district of Hisah-ye Awal-e Bishud (circled) where the remote village of Sia Sang is located at an elevation of 3,117 meters (10226 ft) above sea level. The current daily minimum and maximum temperatures for the week of February 14, 2022 in Sia Sang will be in the range minus 17°C to minus 6°C. The map has been adapted from the provincial map of Afghanistan at the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas. For full provincial map of the country, click HERE – it will open in new tab.

MEALS HALVED, AND FARMERS LACK ACCESS TO MARKETS

According to the local Ismailis I met, they have to consume half of the food that they used to previously. For decades, these Ismaili farmers survived on stored wheat from their summer harvest and income from selling of farm animals and potato in the market. This year’s farming yielded good crops. However, with little access to the national market, they were unable to sell their agricultural products at a fair selling price. Unlike urban population, the farmers residing in rural areas of the country do not have a certain source of income other than agricultural production. There is no orderly and regular transportation system. Thus they are unable to take their family members in critical condition to a hospital. They have difficulty in purchasing food and other basic goods from the market.

Due to lack of access to a permanent and established market to procure food, and necessary goods and items, the local villagers in this part of the country have to take a trip to the neighboring province of Bamyan or the capital Kabul. Transportation fee, 3000 AFN (US$ 30.00), is high and the impoverished community settled here cannot afford paying such a high amount.

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A boy standing in front of mud houses in Sia Sang Dasht- e- Rashak. Photo: Simerg Special Correspondent.
A boy standing in front of mud houses in Sia Sang Dasht- e- Rashak. Photo: Simerg Special Correspondent.

INADEQUATE HEALTH CARE AND TRANSPORTATION

Lack of access to basic health care services has made the living condition challenging. The closest local health care centers are three to four hours away by foot from this village, making it impossible to take their patients on time. The services provided by the health care centers do not enjoy high quality. So, they have to take the critically ill patients to Kabul or neighbouring Bamyan (see map above).

One Jamati member, Ahamad, told me, “I am alone and live only with my wife, I have no other family member to take care of me and my house. God forbid that if one of us gets sick, we must travel to Bamyan for treatment. So, who will take care of my house and belongings?”

The main highway passing through this village connects the central provinces with the capital Kabul. This highway is blocked to the traffic every year in winter due to heavy snowfall and storms that makes travel very difficult or virtually non-existent for several days.

Access to basic education is limited for children in this community. The nearest high school is one hour away from this locality. The former western backed government were in favor of girls’ education and encouraged the local population to send their girls to school. Thus, even with the Taliban ruling the country, education is not barred for girls in this community. The social perception towards education in this community specifically for girls is viewed in a positive light.

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Sia Sang Ismaili Jamatkhana, Afghanistan.
The entrance of the local Jamatkhana in Sia Sang. A signboard hung above the main gate of the Jamatkhana reads as, Jamatkhana Shia Ismaili, Sia Sang village at the center, surrounded by Allah, Muhammad, Ali, Fatima, Hassan and Hussain. Photo: Simerg Special Correspondent.

PASSIONATE YOUTHS SEEK RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

This local Ismaili community deems religious education to be of the highest importance and absolutely necessary for their children. They have asked the Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) and other responsible authorities in the Aga Khan National Council for Afghanistan to open a Baitul Ilm center (BUI). There are more than 13 Ismaili teens who need to acquire religious education and the villagers had many times requested the local ITREB board based in Bamyan to open a BUI center for this community. The local Jamat was very keen and showed passion for starting such a center, but no one addressed this issue and showed interest in this regard, said Ali, one of the local Ismailis I interviewed.

NO DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS OVER THE YEARS

It is extremely sad to report that no development project has been undertaken by either the government or by other NGOs including the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies within the course of the past twenty years in this village. “Only a power station project had been initiated by Ismaili local council based in Bamyan province,” said Muhammad, another Jamati member I interviewed.

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Snowfall in Sia sang - Dawlat murad -following a storm. Photo. Simerg Special Correspondent.
Snow in Sia Sang – Dawlat murad – following a snowstorm. Photo: Simerg Special Correspondent.

CONFLICTS WITH NEIGHBOURING NOMADS

Forty years of war and devastation have inflicted a major toll on infrastructure, economy and livelihood of its population. Civilians are the main victims and pay heavy price for instability and violence. Like other parts of the nation, this small Ismaili community is also concerned about insecurity and conflict in the future. Pashtun nomads used to come and graze their herds and camels on pastures in Hazarajat — the central parts of Afghanistan — during the summer. Many bloody conflicts had taken place between Hazara villagers and Pashtun nomads prior to collapse of US backed republic. “We are very worried about the future conflict and return of Pashtun nomads during the summer,” said Juma one of the local Ismaili interviewees. “They used to come and graze their flocks peacefully. But this year it is not clear what they will do to our farms,” he added.

A PLEA TO INSTITUTIONS AND JAMAT

The majority of interviewees agree that the economic catastrophe and collapse caused by the recent changes has negatively impacted their life and financial positions. They expect the AKDN and other aid organizations to help them and distribute food and other relief aid packages. They have enormous challenges and are very worried.

I again repeat my previous calls to Jamati institutions and the AKDN as well as Jamats around the world to go beyond their normal call of duty and involve themselves in action that will improve the situation of the Jamat and the citizens of Afghanistan. I am afraid the plight of Ismailis in some remote villages is not being addressed adequately, and I urge you not to be passive and indifferent to our well-being.

I look forward to submitting more letters to Simerg for everyone’s attention and consideration.

Thank you and Ya Ali Madad.
(Name withheld)

Date posted: February 13, 2022.

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below OR click Leave a Comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation.

Please note that Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Before leaving this website please take a moment to visit Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. Also, visit Simerg’s sister websites Barakah, dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan, and Simergphotos. The editor of the 3 websites, Malik, may be contacted at the email address mmerchant@barakah.com.

Letter from Afghanistan [5] – In Meeting with AKDN Representative, Governor of Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province Encourages Network to Continue its Socio-Economic Contributions in the Province

[This is our special correspondent’s fifth report from Kabul to provide the global Ismaili Jamat and our readers with reliable information regarding recent development in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Read the first four letters HERE – August 26, HERE – August 29, HERE – September 5, 2021 and HERE – December 4, 2021 — Ed.]

LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN

Monday, December 5, 2021

Click on images for enlargements

Map of Afghanistan with provinces, Simerg
Provincial map of Afghanistan. The Bamyan province where the meeting between the province’s governor and AKDN representative took place is highlighted in red. Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces The provinces of Afghanistan are the primary administrative divisions. Each province encompasses a number of districts or usually over 1,000 villages. Credit: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.

Dear Jamats:

I am pleased to report that Mr. Akbar Ali Pesnani, the special envoy of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, to Afghanistan, met with the governor for Afghanistan’s Bamyan Province, Mr. Abdullah Sarhady on December 5, 2021. Mr. Sarhady thanked the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and its agencies for their contribution and service in the Bamyan province of Afghanistan, and asked AKDN to continue its services in education, health care, agriculture and microfinance in the province. Additionally, he pleaded to the envoy to extend its assistance on poverty alleviation, higher education and infrastructure. This meeting was reported by official media sources.

Afghanistan Bamyan Province governor with AKDN rep, Simerg
AKDN’s representative in Afghanistan, Mr. Akbar Ali Pesnani (left), meets with the governor of the province of Bamyan, Mr. Abdullah Sarhady. Bamyan Province is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the central highlands of the country (see map above). Photo: Facebook page of governor’s media office.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pesnani thanked the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for its collaborations with the AKDN agencies and reaffirmed his commitment on continuing and furthering the agency’s efforts on health care, education, habitation and infrastructure. 

The aim of his visit was to visit the Bamyan provincial hospital, and meet with AKDN agency’s local representatives, Ismaili elders and leaders as well as members of the project teams responsible for the projects undertaken by the agency.

Afghanistan Bamyan province governor with AKDN
AKDN’s representative in Afghanistan, Mr. Akbar Ali Pesnani (left), meets with the governor of the province of Bamyan, Mr. Abdullah Sarhady. Bamyan Province is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, located in the central highlands of the country (see map above). Photo: Facebook page of governor’s media office.

The governor asked the AKDN agencies to extend its contribution and efforts on increasing the capacity of provincial hospital, providing health care in local clinics, supporting the educational sector, implementing of development projects and investments on key infrastructure of the province. 

As a member of the Ismaili Jamat in Afghanistan, this meeting highlights the importance the Islamic Emirate attaches to the work that has been carried out by the Ismaili Imamat over the past several decades in Afghanistan, and look forward to the progress of all peoples of Afghanistan and our Jamat under the new Taliban regime in the months and years to come. I offer my congratulations to the Jamat in Afghanistan and around the world on this happy occasion.

Thank you and Ya Ali Madad.
(Name withheld)

Date posted: December 5, 2021.

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. Please note that Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Letter from Afghanistan [4] – Young Ismaili Activist Shares Her Hopes and Concerns About the Future in Afghanistan

[This is our special correspondent’s fourth letter from Kabul to provide the global Ismaili Jamat with reliable information regarding recent development of the living conditions of the Jamat in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Read the first three letters HERE – August 26, HERE – August 29 and HERE – September 5, 2021. We advise readers to note that in some cases the same information may be repeated in multiple reports — Ed. ]

LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Afghanistan map annotated
Map of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. The major international border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Turkham (Tor Kham) border, mentioned by our correspondent in his post, below, is circled in red. Known as the Grand Trunk Road, the road connects Nangarhar province of Afghanistan with Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Please click on map for enlargement. Credit: Map adapted and annotated by Simerg from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.

Dear Jamats:

Recently, I met a well-known young Ismaili civil society activist based in Kabul, and conducted a short interview with her that focused on her life experiences, opportunities, achievements and her views on the political future and social life under the new regime. She concluded the interview by asking Jamati institutions for an action plan about the future direction of the Jamat. In my third report I had noted that, by their own admission, the Jamati institutions do not have surveys and locations of the Jamat in Afghanistan. Members of the Jamat were advised to take care of their own safety and security. This situation in Afghanistan is unfortunate and unacceptable in the present time. I am sad to note that this lack of Jamati statistics and demographic information, which prevents an effective action plan to help the Jamat, is apparently not unique to Afghanistan.

Please note that the editor of Simerg, Malik Merchant, has verified the authenticity of the person I interviewed and has decided to keep both my name as well the name of the interviewee anonymous for our well-being, safety and protection. I shall simply refer to her as Roshan which is not her real first name.

Women walking on a street in Kabul's Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood.
Kabul’s residents walk along a street in the city’s Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

After the Taliban takeover of the country on August 15, 2021, Roshan became terrified and locked herself at home, thinking that her normal life had come to an end, and that the Taliban would return to the mid 1990s, when they rigidly governed the country with harsh rules and restrictions particularly for women. People were initially terrified and fearful of the new regime, as women were prevented from serving in public institutions. Roshan and many girls like her felt that they would never be able to continue their studies and work. However schooling for girls is increasingly available, albeit separately for men and women, and this has affected the higher education in the country.

Given the international community’s oversight over the behavior of Taliban towards upholding of human and women rights, and their urgent need for international recognition and legitimacy, Roshan believes that, for now, the new Taliban regime might not reimpose the same rules that were in place in the 1990’s.  However, she is not sure whether Taliban will keep their word after the world has granted it the recognition it is seeking. She feels that they might then reimpose the harsher rules of the past. For Roshan, it is most critical for the Taliban to win the hearts and trust of the youth and professionals of the country by keeping their promises as well as allowing some freedom of expression. 

Roshan says the vast majority of the women and women like her benefited from the opportunities like going to school, studying in Universities and Colleges, and having an independent career that the international community and previously US-backed government facilitated. Now, she is wondering whether they will be able to explore the same opportunities that they previously enjoyed under the old regime. She holds out any hope that women like her, who received a quality education and were able to serve their country well for many years, will ever be able to engage and play an active role in either political or social affairs of the country as they previously did. She thinks that under the Taliban, women involvement in the political and social affairs will be restricted and vastly curtailed.

Roshan views the recent meeting between Mawlana Hazar Imam’s special envoy for Afghanistan and the Taliban leadership as positive step towards trust building, but she is neither convinced nor confident that the Taliban would deliver on any commitment that they may have made to the Jamat in Afghanistan as well as other minority groups. Roshan sincerely hopes her pessimism is misplaced, and that things will work out well for the Jamat in the critical period of stabilization ahead. She is pleased to note that AKDN activities continue uninterrupted in the country.

Finally, Roshan would wish the Aga Khan National Council for Afghanistan to design an effective plan and strategy for overcoming the crisis precipitated by the Taliban takeover. There is rampant unemployment and poverty in the Afghan Jamat, and she asks the Ismailis around the globe to support Afghan Jamats through whatever means they can at this time of their need.

A view of Kabul's Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.
A view of Kabul’s Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

On a personal note, I would like to say that all ethnicities and religious minorities are being treated well in Kabul. This is indeed good news. There may be some problems in the suburbs or rural areas but the overall attitude of the Taliban regime towards the minorities is good. I am also pleased to say that we can attend Jamatkhanas for our daily prayers and worship, and that in Kabul the Jamatkhanas are open to both men and women. Additionally, there are no restrictions on religious or social activities in other provinces where there is a larger presence of the Jamat or the Jamat is in a majority.

Before the Taliban takeover, a wide range of Ismaili girls would attend their university classes especially in private universities. But, unfortunately, after the Taliban takeover, girls in general are reluctant to attend the university out of concern for their own safety and well-being. The dire economic situation has further eroded the capacity of families to send their daughters to universities. The educational centers and universities have resumed their activities, but only a small number of female students attend their daily classes.

As far as I know, a number of Jamati members have left the country through the Turkham border crossing with Pakistan (see map above). Others may leave when the passport offices officially start distributing the documents necessary to travel abroad.

One great challenge we have is that a large number of Jamats are unemployed and are using up their savings to survive this uncertain period in their lives. Winters are harsh, and until recently no practical steps had been taken by Jamati institutions to come up with a plan and mitigate the crisis that poor and impoverished Ismaili families are having to deal with. Lately, Jamati institutions have begun distributing flour, oil and beans to a small number of impoverished Ismaili families in Kabul. However a large number of Jamati members have not yet received this much needed relief. Of course, the situation in the country generally is pretty alarming.

As already noted the Aga Khan National Council for Afghanistan must come up with an effective plan and strategy for overcoming the crisis precipitated by the Taliban takeover. I once again sincerely appeal to the Ismaili Leaders International Forum (LIF), the AKDN agencies and Ismaili Council leadership to be forward thinking, closely monitor the situation and adopt an effective strategy for addressing all the issues that will continue to emerge in the foreseeable future.

Thank you and Ya Ali Madad.
(Name withheld)

Date posted: December 4, 2021.

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Simerg urges the international Jamat to lend their support to Focus Humanitarian in their on-going efforts to assist the Jamat in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. We sincerely hope the youth and professionals in the Jamat will join in this extremely worthy and noble cause. On-line contributions can be made at the Focus Humanitarian websites for Canada, Europe, and the USA by clicking on FOCUS CANADA; FOCUS EUROPE; and FOCUS USA.

We pray for the safety and well-being of all the people of Afghanistan as well as the members of the Ismaili Jamat. We further hope that the new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan will work toward a common goal — that of stabilizing, uniting and bringing peace to the country that will enable every citizen to contribute to the progress and development of the country.

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. Please note that Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Taliban Deputy Prime Minister -- Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan -- with Aga Khan Development Network representatives AKDN Simerg Malik Merchant

Afghanistan Update: Taliban and Aga Khan Development Network Discuss Future Development in Country

Compiled and prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

Sputnik, a Moscow based news agency, reported on November 6, 2021, that The Taliban represented by the deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, met with Akbar Pesnani, the envoy of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to Afghanistan, to discuss a comprehensive development strategy for the country. The Taliban government calls itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The meeting was confirmed by the government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet, which is as follows:

Article continues after tweet

Translation of Tweet: Maulvi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, met with Ali Akbar Pasnani, Aga Khan’s Special Envoy to Afghanistan, and discussed the activities of the Aga Khan Development Network. To invest in parts……

(Photo Credit: Featured photo at top of post is from the Official Twitter Account of the Spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid)

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Hanafi said that the Taliban-led Afghan government was ready to assist AKDN in its mission in the country. ANI, South Asia’s leading multimedia news agency, further added to the Sputnik report by stating that the joint activities should focus on the development of the health care and education systems in Afghanistan. And, according to a report published in Pakistan’s SAMAA TV website, basing its sources on Afghanistan’s Pashto language website Nunn Takki Asia, the deputy prime minister urged AKDN to build a hospital in Afghanistan. Pesnani was assured that the Taliban would provide the necessary conditions and facilities for the Network’s activities.

Afghan media reported Pesnani as saying that that the AKDN’s aim was to build human capacity and focus on girls’ education, in response to which Hanafi said that education is essential for all and the ministries of education and higher education were working on a mechanism and creating conditions’ for girls education in the country.

According to Chitral News of November 7, Hanafi is said to have extended a formal invitation to His Highness the Aga Khan to visit the country. Simerg could not confirm the invitation through other independent sources.

Date posted: November 12, 2021.

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Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: Nature Journal’s World View – The Incoming Afghan Government Must Allow Immunizations

“I am optimistic that Taliban Leaders could be persuaded to permit vaccinations again” — Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta

Aga Khan University's Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta
Aga Khan University’s Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta. Photo: Aga Khan University. Click photo to read article.

“The world must work with Kabul’s new rulers to get polio and other diseases under control….The Taliban now running the country has an opportunity to show a pragmatic, reformist face to the world and people of Afghanistan: it needs to run the health system, to care more about protecting women and children….and for the polio-immunization programme to resume.” — Zulfiqar Bhutta, writing in Nature…. READ MORE

Zulfiqar A. Bhutta of the Aga Khan University and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is the Founding Director, Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health at the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, which includes a teaching hospital in Kabul. He was recently honoured the 2021 Roux Prize for his tremendous impact on maternal and child health, as a researcher and a leader as well as his commitment to reducing health inequities. READ PROFESSOR BHUTTA’S SEPTEMBER 23 PIECE IN NATURE.

NATURE is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions.

Date posted: September 28, 2021.

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We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

Afghanistan Update: Aga Khan Cultural Services Launches Social Media Pages to Monitor on Potential Dangers to Country’s Cultural Heritage

We invite you to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in the September 23 edition of The National on the news that Aga Khan Cultural Services (Afghanistan) has recently launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages that will be a repository of verified information on potential dangers to heritage landmarks in Afghanistan.

We produce, below, excerpts on the subject from the Facebook page of Aga Khan Culture Services Afghanistan, which is part of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

Photo: Aga Khan Cultural Services Facebook Page. Please click on image to read Melissa Gronlund’s report in The National.

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TALIBAN CULTURAL COMMISSION STOPS DESTRUCTION OF HISTORIC FORTRESS

16 September 2021, Gereshk, Helmand: “According to sources, local authorities approved the demolition of sections of the perimeter fortifications at the historic fortress in the city of Gereshk (origins dating back to the 8th century) using heavy machinery. The news was posted on social media and stated that the destruction paved the way for the construction of a new madrassa building.”

17 September 2021: “Following criticism by local inhabitants and on social media, the demolition was halted and Ahmadullah Wasiq, Deputy Head of the Taliban Cultural Commission, stated in an interview with Radio Azadi that “this is a historic fortress and is part of Afghanistan’s history and when news of its destruction reached the elders, it was stopped.”

NO RESTRICTIONS ON VISITING GARDEN IN KABUL

15 September 2021, Kabul: Low and high ranking members of the Taliban frequently visit the Chihilsitoon garden in Kabul, the rehabilitation of which was funded by the German government, surrendering their weapons as required by garden operations. To date they have not imposed restrictions on who can visit the garden which includes large numbers of women and young girls.

For more news and other developments, please click Aga Khan Cultural Services – Afghanistan | Facebook.

Date posted: September 24, 2021.

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We have created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.

A woman shops at the Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood in Kabul simerg

Sunday, September 5, 2021: Letter from Afghanistan [3] – Leadership Urges Jamati Members Not to Cross Border into Pakistan

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos

This is the third in our series of on-going reports from our special correspondent in Afghanistan who is covering for us the developments in his country that are impacting the lives of the Ismaili Jamat. The first two reports can be read HERE – August 26 and HERE – August 29.

We urge all members of the Jamat to support institutions worldwide, such as Focus Humanitarian, in their on-going efforts to assist the Jamat in Afghanistan and other parts of the world. We sincerely hope the youth and professionals in the Jamat will join in this extremely worthy and noble cause. On-line contributions can be made at the Focus Humanitarian websites for Canada, Europe, and the USA by clicking on FOCUS CANADA; FOCUS EUROPE; and FOCUS USA.

We pray for the safety and well-being of all the people of Afghanistan as well as the members of the Ismaili Jamat. We further hope that the new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan will work toward a common goal — that of stabilizing, uniting and bringing peace to the country that will enable every citizen to contribute to the progress and development of the country.

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LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN: DANGEROUS AND RISKY BORDER CROSSING, CURRENT GROUND SITUATION AND AN APPEAL TO THE ISMAILI LEADERSHIP

Article continues below

[REPORT #3]. SUNDAY, SPETEMBER 5, 2021

[This is our Ismaili correspondent’s third letter to provide the global Ismaili Jamat with reliable information regarding recent development of the living conditions of the Jamat in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Read the first two letters HERE – August 26 and HERE – August 29. We advise readers to note that in some cases the same information may be repeated in multiple reports — Ed.]

Please click on map for enlargement

Afghanistan Map, Spin Boldak
Map of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. The area, Spin Boldak, in the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, and the border town of Chaman in Pakistan where many Afghans seek refuge, are circled in red. Please click on map for enlargement. Credit: Map adapted and annotated by Simerg from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas.

Dear Jamats:

First of all, a special thanks to the Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Afghanistan for staying alongside the Jamats in such a critical time in the country, and for apprising the Jamats about the overall measures we need to take for our well being and safety.

A vast majority of members of the Jamat are concerned regarding the recent upheavals and there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding their future, especially of their children. Many have therefore decided to embark on a journey to neighboring countries through whatever available means. I have learnt that recently several left the country through the Spin Boldak border crossing with Pakistan, without proper and legal documentation (see map above). This is a very risky and dangerous proposition. Those crossing the border face risks from smugglers who are notorious in their dealings with innocent people, and the Jamat has been specifically requested not to put their life in jeopardy and avoid using illegal ways to reach their destination. Social media reports suggest that some Jamati members were successfully able to cross the border into Pakistan, while some other Ismaili families have gone missing and there is no clue about their fate. Those who have legal documents to travel or leave the country have been advised that they should wait until the opening of passport offices, the Hamid Karzai international airport, as well as other border crossings so they can travel out of the country safely.

Following the official departure of US troops from Afghanistan, the political future and formation of new government have remained uncertain. The Taliban, the only ruling party, was scheduled to announce the new government on Friday, September 3, but this has not yet happened. Another concern is related to the inclusive nature of the new government. We anxiously await the announcement.

Article continues below

A man on motorcycle carries a delivery in Kabul. August 29, 2021. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

Most public institutions particularly key functional ministries have remained closed. The nation is suffering from lack of fuel and food. According to the United Nations, about a third of Afghan citizens are struggling to survive in the face of the crisis and insecurity, with the prospect that the country could functionally be out of food within a month. Drought, conflict, Covid-19, unemployment and drain of international aids have contributed to escalating of this crisis. It is therefore gratifying to read that yesterday, Saturday, September 4, 2021, the UN Secretary General António Guterres announced that the United Nations will hold an international conference to raise humanitarian funds for the Afghan people on September 13.

Following the Taliban takeover, the security situation in almost all parts of the nation has relatively improved. But, ISIS-K is considered a potential threat to the new government led by the Taliban. Clarissa Ward, CNN International chief correspondent had twitted recently that the Taliban sources told CNN they were concerned ISIS-K had melted with Taliban in Kabul and it was challenging to distinguish them from legitimate Taliban fighters. The emergence of ISIS-K, an affiliated group with ISIS mainstream based in the Middle East, has raised concerns among all people and specially in the Shite minority groups consisting of Twelvers and Ismailis. 

Given the recent developments and new the unfolding realities, all Jamat members have to be vigilant and act cautiously in such a dire situation. The Ismaili Council for Afghanistan had issued an announcement last week that require all the Jamat members to observe the following points: (1) No definitive surveys of the Jamat in Afghanistan is available, and members of the Jamat who need help for their safety and security, are required to take personal measures; and (2) the Jamats have been asked to avoid illegal immigrations without visas and passports, since no country has officially announced its cooperation for accepting refugees.

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A woman shops at the Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood in Kabul.
A woman shops at the Qala-e-Fathullah neighbourhood in Kabul. August 29, 2021. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

A further announcement made in the last 24-48 hours has instructed the Jamat not to try and cross the border into Pakistan illegally, as those who do cross the border at Spin Boldak will be hosted in refugee camps in nearby Chaman (see map shown above). The camps are under full control of the Pakistani military and they will not permit the refugee arrivals from Afghanistan to leave the camps. Thus, the Jamats have been requested not to travel to Pakistan without having legal documents.

In short, the Ismaili Afghan Jamats need to demonstrate resilience and vigilance in the face of unfolding challenges and crises, and follow the instructions and guidance provided by AKDN agencies and the Ismaili Council for Afghanistan. However, I continue to express my concern about there not being a plan on the part of AKDN and the Ismaili Council for Afghanistan to overcome the crisis that Ismailis are encountering throughout the nation, particularly in the economic spheres in the life of the Jamat.

I therefore sincerely appeal to the Ismaili Leaders International Forum (LIF), the AKDN agencies and Ismaili Council leadership to be forward thinking, closely monitor the situation and adopt an effective strategy for addressing all the issues that will continue to emerge in the foreseeable future.

Article continues below

A man waits for a minibus at a traffic square in Kabul. Photo: Simerg correspondent, Kabul.

I will, as mentioned previously, continue to provide updates on the situation in Afghanistan and will also report about whether the Jamati institutions are meeting their responsibilities to the Jamat. As you know, email addresses have been provided (click HERE) whom we can write to. I again assure readers around the world that the information I have provided is as accurate and reliable as can be.

I do appreciate that my Ismaili brothers and sisters in Afghanistan may have a different perspective of issues affecting the Jamat, and the editor and I invite them to provide their honest and sincere feedback in the comments box below. Opinions should be expressed in a constructive manner as that would be for the betterment of the Jamat. I also believe we can individually act as guides to our institutions who are working in extremely difficult circumstances. We also have to remember that we are living in a Covid-19 pandemic which complicates things even further. The editor will publish your feedback anonymously.

Thank you and Ya Ali Madad.
(Name withheld)

Date posted: September 5, 2021.
Last updated: September 5, 2021 (18:10 – the original version had a few typos that have now been corrected).

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We welcome feedback from our readers. Please complete the LEAVE A REPLY form below or click Leave a comment. Your letter may be edited for length and brevity, and is subject to moderation. Please note that Simerg has created a special page on Afghanistan where you will find links to all our posts published on Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover. Please click AFGHANISTAN.