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Fall of Kabul: Reflections after one year


 ISLAMABAD  :

Aziz Khan*, 45, sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. Rain or shine, he faces the harsh realities of his new life every day. Dislodged from his home, he’s torn between two unreconciled strivings: two meals a day to survive in a new world and a yearning to reunite with his family stranded back in Afghanistan.

With no access to basic facilities such as clean drinking water and electricity, Aziz struggles to come to terms with poverty — a new, alien reality he has not encountered in his life before.

His days are consumed by the memories of the apple orchards that he owned and the stable dry fruit business he left behind in the Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan before he fled to Pakistan along with his wife, leaving behind his daughter and second wife, after Kabul fell to Taliban a year ago.

Read One year on, Afghan family still divided after daughter fled, mother stayed

Aziz, like hundreds of other Afghan refugees living in tents and makeshift shelters just outside the press club in Islamabad, is beset by the troubling questions: what’s their next destination and where should they go?

“I keep thinking about my orchards, my big house, the carpet we brought from Turkey and the dry fruit business that I had,” Aziz shares with a lump in his throat. “But you know what I miss the most; my daughter and her smile.”

Darkness stirs to life the precious moments of his life before he became a refugee — a flashback captures him and he is unable to remember when tears begin rolling down his cheeks and when he falls asleep. “It’s really difficult to even separate my thoughts from my dreams; everything feels diluted,” he says, “my feet haven’t yet forgotten the warm softness of our carpet.”

He then takes out his mobile phone and shows a photo of himself plucking apples from his orchard and another one showing him selling dry fruit at his shop. His eyes well up, lips tremble and he struggles to mumble only a few words when he shows the photo of his daughter clad in a white fancy frock. “I miss her so much,” is all he manages to say.

Ghani’s media team member’s tent

The lives of many turned upside down since the chaotic end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan. Scenes of violence in Afghanistan triggered painful memories for many, including Abul Sattar Azad, who worked at the Afghan presidential palace as a member of the former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s social media team and witnessed the moment when Ghani fled the country.

Read More Afghan Taliban stronger than ever a year after takeover

Apparently, Ghani now lives a comfortable life in UAE while Azad along with his two kids, wife and father-in-law is stranded in a tent in Pakistan and managing media affairs of the refugees located near the capital’s press club.

“There is no difference between the Afghan and Ukrainian refugees but the world is treating Afghans differently,” he regretted.

What’s a woman without beauty?

The hasty withdrawal of the U.S armed forces and rapid rise to power of the Afghan Taliban brought pain, helplessness, stress and anxiety for many. Lina Mehrab, who is living with her three sons and a daughter in a tent, is one of them. Lina, who used to teach children at her house in Kabul, has a mixture of feelings about her abrupt exit from Afghanistan and the ‘miserable’ tent life.

“Losing beauty is the worst that can happen to any woman,” Lina said while sharing how scarcity of food, water and money was affecting refugee women living in tents.

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