street scene kabul after taliban takeover august 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021: Letter from Afghanistan [1]

Introduced by MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah 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.

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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

street scene in Kabul following Taliban takeover
A street scene in Kabul following the Taliban takeover. Photo: Special to Simerg.

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. 

street scene kabul after taliban takeover august 2021
A street scene in Kabul following the Taliban takeover. Photo: Special to Simerg.

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.

Local residents and members of the Taliban army seen at Kabul’s Babur Gardens shortly after the city was captured by the Taliban in mid August. The Gardens were restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, providing much needed green space for Kabul’s residents after years of war and destruction. Photo: Special to Simerg.

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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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.

Flowers, Flowers and More Flowers – with Love – for the Children, Girls, Sisters and Mothers of Afghanistan

By MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor, BarakahSimerg and Simergphotos)

PLEASE READ THIS FIRST: We wish to remind Jamati members in Afghanistan that they should remain calm, and not give in to panicked reactions. A Jamati advisory was issued on August 20, 2021 to that effect (please read it in English and Farsi). We have learnt from newspaper reports that tens of thousands of Afghan citizens, out of panic, have shown up at the gates of Kabul airport hoping to get a flight out of the country. This panicky rush has resulted in seven deaths. Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is giving constant guidance and direction to the Jamati leadership in addressing the developments that are taking place in the country. A special AFGHANISTAN HELPLINE has also been set up. As per the advisory and announcements being made in Jamatkhanas around the world, we are gratified to learn that “Ismaili and AKDN institutions remain safe, and have not come under any undue pressures, and that in accordance with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance, all our institutions continue to operate as normal”.

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Flowers

These daytime and night-time photos of the beautiful Hibiscus flowers were taken at the Aga Khan Park in Toronto in the last week. The post is dedicated to the children, girls, sisters and mothers in Afghanistan, with the hope that they will be given the opportunity to become fully engaged in the country’s development, progress, growth and prosperity in the years ahead.

(Click on photos for enlargement)

Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Simerg Malik Merchant. August 22, 2021
Hibiscus. August 22, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Simerg
Hibiscus. August 15, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Simerg Malik Merchant
Hibiscus. August 14, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus. Photo: © Malik Merchant Simerg Aga Khan Park
Hibiscus. August 15, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Simerg Malik Merchant
Hibiscus. August 22, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Ismaili Jamatkhana Aga Khan Museum Malik Merchant Simerg
Hibiscus. August 15, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.
Hibiscus Aga Khan Park Malik Merchant Simerg
Hibiscus. August 14, 2021. Photo: © Malik Merchant/Simerg.

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Last Word: The Pigeons and the Hibiscus

Through wisdom, may compassion, love, peace and power be given to the women of Afghanistan

Hibiscus and Pigeons Aga Khan Park, Peace, Power, Compassion, Wisdom Simerg Malik Merchant
Hibiscus and Pigeons. August 22, 2021. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Date posted: August 22, 2021.

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Another version of this post appears in Simergphotos.

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.

Taliban Takeover: (1) Advisory from Ismaili Institutions Says Majority of Jamati Members Safe and Continuing with Normal Life; and (2) Afghanistan Helpline Set Up

Introduced and compiled By MALIK MERCHANT
Publisher/Editor SimergBarakah and Simerg Photos

Advisory

An advisory posted in English and Farsi on the official website of the Ismaili community on the latest situation in Afghanistan, says that there are very few civilian casualties involving members of the Jamat, and the majority of them are safe and continuing with normal life. The advisory notes that the Jamat has been advised to remain calm, and not give in to panicked reactions, and that Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, is giving constant guidance and direction to the Jamati leadership in addressing the developments that are taking place in the country.

The advisory asks each family to remain in charge of their homes and dwellings wherever they are located. It also notes that Ismaili and AKDN institutions remain safe, and have not come under any undue pressures, and that in accordance with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance, all our institutions continue to operate as normal.

In an earlier post, that will continue to be updated with reliable information as well as analysis from external non-Jamati sources, we referred to an article that appeared in the on-line edition of Coquitlam’s Tricity News in which Malik Malikzada had mentioned to the newspaper’s reporter, after having spoken to his cousin living in Kabul, that Ismailis in Afghanistan Were Asked to Stay Home and not Panic. That piece of news brought immense relief to us at Simerg as well as our readers from around the world, and we are now pleased to note the official institutional statement in this regard.

Afghanistan Helpline

Al-Saha the communications newsletter of the UK Ismaili National Council has released the following statement in its latest issue (Please read official web version HERE):

“As the unfolding situation in Afghanistan continues to be of concern, the UK and Europe Helpline has been extended for any member of the Jamat that has any concerns or questions. If you live in the UK or Europe, please call the Helpline on 0208 191 0911, Option 2, or email nam@iiuk.org in the first instance. If you have any friends or family that live in Afghanistan who require help and support, please advise them to contact the Afghanistan National Council on +93793014401.

“The Jamat is advised to be vigilant about recent possibly fraudulent activity pertaining to the current crisis in Afghanistan. Please be cautious of fundraising campaigns claiming to support Afghans in need or other advertised services promising to speed immigration processes from Afghanistan. Some of these schemes may be fraudulent and illegal. The Jamati Institutions are working together to support the Jamat. Please direct contributions to FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance via the website ……. if you wish to support those who have been affected by crisis or displacement, including the Jamat in Afghanistan. Thank you for your continued support.”

Prayers

We join Jamati members from around the world and pray for the safety and well-being of the Jamat in Afghanistan as well as the nation at large. We pray for a united Afghanistan in the days and months ahead.

Reader’s Feedback

Please read Comments Received and, if you wish, contribute your reflections, thoughts, insights and eye-witness accounts of the situation in Afghanistan. Names of contributors will be withheld on request, and Simerg and its sister websites never publish or reveal email addresses of individuals who provide feedback.

Date posted: August 20, 2021.
Last updated: August 21, 2021 (Afghanistan helpline section added).

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We invite our readers to submit their reflections, thoughts and prayers on the situation in Afghanistan by completing the feedback form below or by clicking on Leave a comment.

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