(KABUL) – Barely 10 days ago, Ahmad and his family were living at their home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Now they are starting a new life in the United States
“It’s quite different and I like it. It’s something I never imagined before, ”Ahmad told ABC News. In this report, he will be referred to only by his first name to protect his family.
“Peace. Calm … You are free, you can go anywhere, you can do anything, you enjoy life. And most importantly [is] that we have a better future for children.
Just weeks after the departure of American troops, Ahmad’s home country of Afghanistan quickly fell into the hands of the Taliban, a group of Islamic military insurgents. This catastrophic result came after 20 years of fighting US forces there and almost a trillion dollars spent. Almost 2,400 Americans, 66,000 Afghan military fighters and over 47,000 Afghan civilians have been killed in the decades-long war.
“I just missed… what’s going on in Afghanistan. This week I came here, then next Friday. It was under the control of the Taliban, ”he said. “I’m very lucky and happy for it.
Ahmad said it took him a year and a half to leave the country, and now it is “impossible” for the thousands of other Afghans who are trying to flee.
For years, Ahmad worked in logistics, supplying equipment to US and Afghan forces in Kabul. But his association with the West made him a target for the Taliban, despite their assurances that those working with the United States would not be harmed.
“We don’t believe them because… they recently killed interpreters and journalists in our province and threw them in a massive mass grave,” Ahmad said. “They will do it again. They have already done it and they will do it again.
His special immigrant visa, or SIV, was finally approved this month, allowing him and his wife and two daughters to come out.
“The situation in Afghanistan… for me, for my family, for my children, there was no future,” he said. “That’s why I decided to move.
Yet most of their families are trapped at home and in danger. ABC News has agreed not to reveal the full name of the family or their whereabouts to avoid retaliation against loved ones.
“God save them. And they should run away, they should hide, ”Ahmad said. “Yes [they] get out, they will be caught on the, on the road, and [the Taliban will] put them in jail … We can’t say anything. I just told my friend… Please change your locations, don’t be in one place… don’t get caught by the Taliban. Whatever you can do. Just don’t be at your address, be home, or be in places where people might find you. This is the only thing I can tell my friends and colleagues in Afghanistan.
Ahmad is concerned about the restrictions imposed by the Taliban that will affect women in the country, including rules prohibiting wearing nail polish and not being allowed in public without a male guardian.
“They are not allowed to go to university or school. This therefore means that, as is the same rule they had in 1996 (…) a woman is not allowed to go to university or not to work, ”he declared. “So basically you’ve crippled, half of the country’s community, half of the country’s population, crippled.”
However, he believes women will “definitely” fight for their freedoms.
“The Afghan women today are not the Afghan women before – they are more educated,” he said. “They’ve seen the world, they know everything, and no one will sit down and say okay, do anything. Everyone will try to fight back, for their rights. ”
Without the support and protection of the US military, the success of women in the country seems hopeless.
Ahmad did not expect the war to end like this.
“We expected peace in Afghanistan… a country where everyone should have their own rights, their own freedom, but for now we have returned. Twenty years ago, the same place we were then, ”he said. “It doesn’t make me angry, but it makes me sad. As we know America came for a purpose, they have achieved their purpose. We cannot force them to stay in Afghanistan and fight for it on our behalf. ”
For Americans who have fought in the war, and for a generation of Afghans who have seen the promise of progress, many wonder if their sacrifices have been in vain. Those who stay in the country may pay the highest price as the situation worsens minute by minute.
Scenes from Kabul show thousands of people running to flee at the airport, with adults and children suspended from planes as they attempt to take off. Six thousand US troops have now been ordered to go directly to Kabul to help with the evacuation of US personnel and Afghans who assisted the US mission, a US official told ABC News.
Ahmad decided to work for the United States in 2016.
“It was good financial support for my family to live on,” he said. “We thought it was going to help our country work with the US government, and somehow we are helping our country lead the planes against the invaders.”
He didn’t know his job would make him a target of the Taliban.
“[In] at first, my neighbors, my connections, my relatives… they were trying to convince me that I shouldn’t be working with the American government, ”he said. Then, he said, he and his family were threatened with calls and beatings on their doors.
Ahmad says he believes Afghanistan’s rapid fall is a cause of his government’s weakness.
“They did not build [the government], then build their strength. They all depend on US government support for the US military [for] 20 years old, they [were] simply by relying on other strengths. British or Australian forces. They didn’t want to develop their own ability or ability to control.
He said he blamed “ourselves” for the fall of his country.
“Why we don’t have [we] change, and 20 years. We had everything, all the facilities, all the support, all the money, why haven’t we changed? Why we haven’t changed ourselves, why we haven’t changed for [the] better? “he said.” I blame us, our leaders for that. ”
He cannot predict when he will return to his home country but says if the regime changes and there is peace, I will return.
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