Not a civil war

By Dr. Maliha Zulfacar

Summary of Dr. Zulfacar's article, submitted to OMAID WEEKLY. Continued from our previous issue.

I have traveled most of my life to different continents and regions but this trip was the riskiest of all. Until the last hour we were not sure to which part of Afghanistan we were being taken. At the hotel [in Dushanbe], an hour before the flight, we were told the destination was Taloqan and at the airport, we were told Panjsher.

It took two hours to get to Panjsher. Once there, it was a different feeling. It was HOME. I was returning back after 21 years of living as an immigrant in Europe and then in the US. The mountains, the roaring rivers, the trees, and the dust seemed unchanged. Yet, once we approached a village and became closer to the people, the pain, the agony, the torture of war, the disgust, and the helplessness were heart breaking.

To my surprise, walking in the village without the company of a male relative was not an issue. There were no restrictions regarding where we should walk or whom we could talk to.

The local women all talked about the human and financial burden of the ongoing war. Their sons, on whom they depend for farming activities, were on the frontline and their daughters have long passed their marriage age; no available young men with the necessary Mahr/dowry to wed them. The horrific living conditions of the internally displaced refugees under the blue colored UN-donated tents in the bitter cold winters and scorching hot summers were told and retold everywhere.

They all condemned the direct interference of Pakistan/Taliban. After a few days, it became obvious that by referring to the Taliban, they meant Pakistanis and other "foreigners"; when I asked specifically about these foreigners, they named Arabs, Chechens, and Chinese.

Contrary to most Afghans residing outside of Afghanistan, for those Afghans inside Afghanistan with whom I spoke, the conflict is not seen as a civil war. When they spoke of war , they did not mention or associate the Taliban with Pashtoons and the United Front with non-Pashtoons. Among those I interviewed, they said Pakistan's direct support of the Taliban was as clear and crucial in their survival as the Soviets' support of the Parcham and Khalq [communist parties].


Copyright © Women on the road for Afghanistan 2001