Last year The US lead army in Afghanistan marked their 10th anniversary in October. During that time in October I took an interview of an Afghan girl studying in Bangladesh who spent half of her life in Taliban regime and half Under US siege.
N.B. : It was first of my interviews that I took in 2011 and afterwards. Hoping to publish those all.
Me: it will be better if you can tell me your name, the province you come from and how old you are. And where you are currently studying?
Mursal: My Name is Mursal Hamraz. I am 19 years old.
Mursal: and I am from a northern province of Afghanistan called, Mazar-e-Sharif but actually I have been living in the capital, Kabul, since I was 3 years old. I am currently studying in AUW(Asian University for Women) in Bangladesh, and my major is going to be PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics)
Me: Can you remember the day when the USA lead troops attacked your country.
Mursal: well I was young then, but I can remember some parts only. Actually the night was horrible I can remember looking at the sky and just seeing red colour stars (bullets, rockets, and so on) going around. It was funny because I was really thinking they were beautiful as they were just like moving stars but in fact, there was also the sound part that was way too horrible. We could hear loud sounds of rockets, bombs, and bullets everywhere.
Mursal: we couldn't sit near the window as we were afraid if it was going to break down and would hurt as. No, it was Kabul. Kandahar by the way was the capital of Taliban at that time and that is why it’s now really in a bad security situation
Me: it was Kandahar, right? Or Kabul?
Mursal: No, I have been to Kabul, the capital and my home is there and I was in Kabul when the US troops invaded Afghanistan.
Me: And how was the situation over there before the attack?
Mursal: well, it was a silent, yet horrifying situation, not only for women but for men as well female education was completely banned during the Taliban government. No female was allowed to educate or go out for jobs if they wanted to go out for any other purpose, they had to wear a kind of hijab which we call "Chadari" in our language, let me send you the link to one of the pictures of this weird hijab. [link]
Me: What your father used to do then? What was your family reaction in that situation?
Mursal: my father now is a retired police officer. Well, my father was not able to continue his job during the Taliban government as it was way too risky for him. So he was home. Actually I am lucky to have been raised in an open minded family. No my father didn't want to move outside of the country. He wanted to stay in Afghanistan. So my brother who is the youngest of my brothers was going to school at that time. And peculiarly, he had to have a long beard and he had to wear something in his head which we call "lungi"
Mursal: Actually it is important to mention that lungi is not something bad, it is sometimes worn as a traditional head hat. Just sometimes, but not always. Not for boys in school or university but just in some rare occasions. Yet during the Taliban government, men "had to" wear this lungi whenever they went outside. [Lungi]
Mursal: honestly they were forced to wear it as same as poor women were forced to wear that Chadari type hijab.
Me: have you ever been in the middle of the battle?
Mursal: No, but I have just heard the horrendous sounds of the bomb blasts and suicide attacks even since the fall of Taliban government. As I was too young at that time, I didn't have to go outside much to see anything by my own
Me: so you spend almost half of your childhood under Taliban regime and under coalition government
So what is the difference that you see in your and your family's life in this two regime?
Mursal: well a big difference both positive and negative. In fact, let me be honest with something.
Mursal: the government of Taliban was horrible for Women as they were not able to educate yet there is something good about their period of government that was a good security! It is really true under the Taliban government Afghanistan; there was no suicide attack at all. The country was almost under a secure situation and you know what. I guess I have seen by myself in the tv as well the first time Taliban arrested a thief they cut his hands in front of the people in a crowded bazaar and told that if after that time anyone steals something is being caught by the Taliban. They are going to cut his hands as well. This was how a "real fear" was created in the heart of thieves that way the theft and rubbery situation had almost decreased to none during the Taliban regime
In fact there was no bomb blasts except the days of invasion. But now if we see every day is a terrifying day for almost all Afghans as there are always bomb blasts, suicide attacks and so on in Afghanistan. And as a result the situation is really insecure. so here is one positive point of the Taliban government.
Me: Was it under good ruling then? Except for the women education? No corruption? Justice ensured?
Mursal: well in terms of corruption I am not sure as I don't have exact facts for that. But in terms of security of course
Me: Why did your father leave his job in Taliban period?
Mursal: because Taliban were against the previous government of Afghanistan and my father was a police officer or basically a government employee of that previous government. So for that reason Taliban while in power didn't want to see any government officials of the past. Do you know why Taliban were against the previous government?
Mursal: because the government before Taliban was really a different one it had given full rights to women in terms of wearing or not wearing hijab. Afghanistan could be called modern at that time I wonder if you have seen any photos of Afghan people from that time.
Me: before 1996 right?
Mursal: it was then when women even wore shorts, short dresses.
Mursal: so Taliban is basically the group which was against that government and so evolutionarily they started to get more followers and in 1996 they finally were able to get the control of the country by their own
Actually the interesting thing about Taliban is that they think they are really fair in terms of Women's rights. They think this is actual practice of Islam but that is not right.
Me: well, so do you think that people are having a better life except for the security fears?
Mursal: of course much better
Me: Tell me about your schooling in Afghanistan.
Mursal: well, I said I am lucky because I had my school at home while Taliban were telling us not to go to school actually my elder sister who is now a graduate of medicine and is a doctor was at that time at home, so she secretly started a school for me and my other sisters and also for our neighbourhood girls to come and educate and get hope for a future to see our schools open
Me: how many siblings you got?
Mursal: we are 9 siblings in total. My father got two times married.
Mursal: my first mother passed away due to cancer disease. So there are 5 of my siblings from my first mom and 4 others including me from the second mom and so I was trying to say that when I went to school jut right after the fall of Taliban government I got to know there was not only my sister with a secret school for our area
But there were lots of other secret schools in Afghanistan by other brave afghan women during the Taliban government.
Me: what was the effect of the attack on young kids like you at that time?
Mursal: well honestly till now whenever I heard a small sound, my body shakes and I really get scared.
Even this time when I went to Afghanistan I got scared even hearing a bit loud noise. So it was really horrible for all children, in fact a long nightmare.
Mursal: there was a bomb blast, bullets shots, and suicide attack near to our home
Me: and what was the initial reaction of the people (not Taliban or anti-Taliban)
Mursal: they were in fact against the Taliban rule and they are still like that I mean almost all Afghans hate the period of Taliban government and as same as children, all Afghans think of that time as a nightmare
My neighbour’s father was killed recently maybe two years back when the Taliban suicide bombers entered the Finance ministry and our neighbour was the guard there so he was the first to be killed he had two wives and lots of children, small children and young ones.in fact another bad effect, and which is a bit funny for us Afghans is the fact that almost we think well all are mentally depressed which is the truth and we are also mostly psychic
Mursal: sometimes we Afghans get upset on a very simple thing.
Me: when did you decide to come to Bangladesh and why? How do you find Bangladesh different with Afghanistan?
Mursal: and I guess, but I am not sure, I have seen some facts related to this as well
Well, after graduation from 12th grade
Me: tell me the facts
Mursal: I took the Indian scholarship exam
Mursal: I passed in that exam, but couldn't go as India was to select only 500 out of 700 students
Me: ok. Then after Indian exam what happened?
Mursal: Actually after the Indian scholarship which I didn't get I have found out about AUW in Bangladesh from a kind employee working in the ministry of higher education. You know I really feel lucky and am thankful to that person because he just informed me right one day before we had to take the exam for this scholarship. I just took the exam without any preparations and any hopes at all. I was thinking of it as a fun and nothing else, I didn't expect I am going to be selected but I was selected then!
Mursal: the first time I came to Bangladesh I was a bit sad as it was my first time coming far far away from my family and that also facing cultural shock and a completely different society and different people. But honestly I have gradually got used to it that even now I feel Bangladesh is my second homeland after Afghanistan
Me: what was the difference?
Mursal: comparing Afghanistan to Bangladesh, to be honest, I found it much secure than Afghanistan which is obviously true and another fact is that women have got more rights and freedom in here than Afghanistan because even if the Taliban are gone from Afghanistan now, still their dark ideas and influences are remaining in the minds of most of the uneducated people especially the rural areas so that is how women are still mostly deprived of their rights and freedom of choice and mostly they are even being violated and discriminated against here in Bangladesh one of the things which really inspired me is the "Eve teasing" + the cases of Acid thrown attacks which has fortunately been decreasing day by day in Bangladesh
Me: is it increasing in Afghanistan?
Mursal: and eve teasing is something much known to every person+ media + government had a great influence in trying to reduce eve teasing in Bangladesh
Mursal: yet in Afghanistan there is no one who would be able to influence this idea and try to raise voice for that
Me: do you know anyone living in Taliban controlled part now?
Mursal: well most of my friends were either living abroad, or were not much under the full war situation. I mean I am one of those, but as I told you I didn't see most of the problems as I was home most of the time just studying and growing up!
Me: fortunate one
Mursal: yep I was and am!
Me: what future do you see ahead of Afghanistan?
Mursal: well that is way too tough question to be asked ever! Actually by looking at the excited, enthusiastic Afghan Youth of today I really become hopeful for a better Afghanistan in future. Yet the threatening decisions which are made jointly by the Afghan government and the international community such as the decision of 2014, I really become kind of confused about the situation in future.
Me: what is the decision of 2014?
Mursal: well they decision of 2014 is to evacuate all the foreign troops from Afghanistan and so hand the security situation to the Afghan national army and police which is freaking confusing I mean I am not sure and I don't maybe I am wrong but it could be that the Afghan national army might not be able to handle the security situation at that time.
Me: you mean they won’t be ready?
Mursal: yep they might not be ready or they might be. I am not sure. But we feel like it.
Mursal: actually preparations have also been taken such as the training programs for Afghan national army which has already started
Me: Ok, tell the present situation of the afghan youths in Afghanistan?
Mursal: it is good, it is improving, it is positive, they are hopeful. They get empowered by getting knowledge day by day. I guess some of the Afghans while getting an opportunity to go and study abroad, in most cases they flee in that country and never come back that is horrible and I hate that kind of idea and that kind of work but there are some who really want to go back home and share what they have achieved and learned so far an example to that could be the Afghan students in AUW so far as I am staying, interacting and living with and sharing with them, I got to know that they all area really concerned about AF, so they really want to learn something to go back to AF and apply it for a better future.
Me: what they think about the American troops??Friend or enemy? Wanted or unwanted?
Mursal: that is also another controversial topic. Well if we look at the statistics it shows that in the beginning of the American invasion of Afghanistan and taking it from Taliban government Afghan people were really happy from Americans so they thought of them as friends. Yet this satisfaction decreased day by day as the security situation got worse and day by day Afghan families lost their members, relatives, friends and their own people that way they thought this was partly because of the American troops, for an example to that could be the air attack of foreign troops over villages where there was no Taliban, but it resulted in killing a large number of Afghan civilians who were just common people. So that is why people are getting less interested in the foreign troops, Yet they are also hopeful for them as they are afraid that if one day these troops go away from AF, Taliban might come back and so the same bad situation repeat again.
Me: tell me about the New York trip? What was it about?
Mursal: it was just a short trip there was a conference of the US-Afghan Women's council actually it was a meeting not a conference actually I was an afghan rep of AUW.
Mursal: these all people in that meeting were the donors, friends, and basically those who helped the US afghan women's council in improving afghan women's situation back in AF
Me: anyone else went from Bangladesh?
An Afghan junior from my university. She was also with me. It was only two days.
I had four days journey and only two days of stay there actually I really felt good as I heard all positive points about Afghanistan. Positive plans, positive statements, aspiring people talking about a positive future. So I was really happy and inspired.
Me: tell me something about those positives.
Mursal: like people talking about how they provide scholarship to the Afghan girls to join the American University in Kabul. They provided funds for children to go to school. They encouraged women in the villages to improve their hand made things. I mean like rug weaving, sewing, and so on. These all
Me: and last 2 question. How you think future will be better for Afghanistan?
Mursal: providing opportunities for Afghan youth! Improving women's situation in terms of education, employments, and rights. Actually the later one is my goal for future. I really want to do something for the Afghan women. But actually I am intending to create balance between men and women
Me: and what you want to do in future?
Mursal: firstly I want to educate myself, and then get a good job in Afghanistan, and when I feel that I am ready and have good resources, I want to open an NGO for women. I want to improve their lives through education, besides fostering their abilities in different types of works. Such as training them to be a beauty parlour, or a sewer, or knitter, or a rug weaver and so on and I also want to educate them about other issues of life such as their health, their children health. So to control the maternal and child mortality. As AF is one of the countries with the highest rate of this case beside trying to get to their inner side and try to figure out whether they are still living under pressure of a male dominated family or not if yes then I will try to solve this by having communications with their family members as well as themselves well you might think these are too big dreams.
Me: I think first priority should be to make people aware of their life and their value
Mursal: but I am intending to do this, I know it is not easy especially the communication part is way too hard
but I do really want to do something Insha Allah.
yep you are right raising awareness is also a part of my plan.
Me: and I forgot you are from which tribe?
Mursal: Tajik. So the majority is Pashtun.
Me: is it the main one?
Mursal: and then Tajik.
Mursal: and then Hazara and there are many more minority tribes.
Me: what is the approximate percentage?
Mursal: it is approximately 42 % Pashtuns, 27% Tajiks, 2:08 AM and 9 % hazaras and the rest is other ethnics.
Me: ok, thank you so much for giving me your time. It was nice knowing about you and your country.
Mursal: My pleasure.