Recently a group of staff members of the Afghan parliament traveled to Europe to participate in a five-day leadership workshop. But in what seems to be a regular occurrence, four of the five did not return to Afghanistan. Three young men and one young woman ran away. For me this is sad news, watching my country lose its capable and talented individuals.
The news of the so-called runaways soon spread within the parliament. This was the fifth time that parliament staffers went on an official trip abroad and then ran away. Often these getaways are planned when the officials know they will have a trip to a European country like Germany, The Netherlands, England, or Italy. As soon as they can find an opportunity, such as at the airport restroom, they leave. They go to the home of a friend or relative and then request to be refugees.
Most of them are well-qualified and experienced young people holding effective management rolls in parliament. My colleagues and I admired them. Some people argue that these people were smart to leave if they are able to improve their lives and guarantee their children’s future.
After 2014, the civil war could start again, so why not take advantage of a good opportunity when you can. They assume there will not be peace in Afghanistan.
But I am saddened by their choice. What I see is my country losing people with skills and talents to contribute to our country. As the 2014 date for the pullout of the international force nears, it seems more people are trying to leave. If they stayed, they could help bring change and improve our situation. Their studies and experience in leadership in high-level government jobs are important assets needed to strengthen our country.
Since reading the book “Power Struggle over Afghanistan,” written by Kai Eide—the UN special envoy for Afghanistan from 2008 to 2012—I am becoming more distressed about the likelihood of change in Afghanistan. I wonder if my country will ever improve. Every page of this book makes me wonder who will stay and work for Afghanistan if young people leave for a more comfortable life in Europe or in the U.S.
I am not sure about how to resolve this complex issue. Can those of us who remain in Afghanistan without much power or influence bring about change? I believe Afghans should have hope and can bring improvements. In the meantime, those who think there is no hope will continue to leave and it appears there isn’t much we can do about that.
Photo by Waseem Khan