After 9/11 and the American attack on Afghanistan, Afghans began to feel optimistic about life in their country. Things began improving. Women had access to education. New buildings began to go up. The look of the country changed.
However, the Taliban changed their look as well, along with their strategy. Once they were recognizable by their appearance; Afghans, particularly Afghan women, could recognize the enemy. They knew the dangers of walking alone or going out at certain times.
But danger is not as easy to spot as it once was. The Taliban remake themselves with every suicide attack. We see them beardless, in women’s clothing or dressed like western men in T-shirts and trousers. These disguises make it difficult to know if the man standing next to you is a terrorist or not.
The Taliban occupy new buildings and hide inside, or cover themselves in burqas so no one will suspect them. Then they launch their cruel attacks.
With the approach of the 2014 Afghanistan presidential election along with the planned withdrawal of American troops, we are at a point of great uncertainty.
It will be a turning point in the lives and destiny of the Afghan people. Will the Afghan government and Afghan forces be able to maintain national security? Even now, with foreign assistance, security is a problem.
When President Karzai and President Obama met earlier this month in Washington, they both expressed support for the idea of entering into peace negotiations with the Taliban. Both presidents should act wisely since these decisions will affect the future of millions of people.
I can see two possible scenarios after the American troops leave: Either the Taliban is asked to join the government or it is not.
The Afghan people have many questions about the role the Taliban will play and the consequences of including them. Can the Taliban really be expected to play a role under the terms of a new government? Who can guarantee that the Taliban won’t seek to continue to restrict the rights of women? Will Afghan women agree to terms that give the Taliban a role in government?
If the Taliban is not given a role in the government, can the Afghan military really secure the entire country? What will prevent the Taliban from increasing its power and control in rural areas like Helmand? Will we be able to live without fear?
The future looks dark.
As an Afghan girl, it is difficult for me to accept the idea of the Taliban rejoining the government. I can neither forgive nor forget their brutal and repressive behavior against women. I will not allow a repeal of my rights and I will not delegate any president to speak for me on this issue.
Women will decide for themselves. We have the right to do so. Where their future is at risk, women will choose.
By Marzia N.
AP photo: One of seven Talibs arrested in Mehterlam, Laghman province, east of Kabul, on March 29, 2012.