Tomorrow’s Enemies


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.


  1. Here in America, many people can’t wait till all of our troops pull out of Afghanistan.

    Our national debt skyrockets because of our involvement overseas, especially since we entered the Middle East, so pulling our troops out will help cut down on our military spending (though it might not ultimately do the trick for our economy), as well as finally give us the opportunity to decrease the size of our military. No one here wants to further relive the constant loss of troops that we have had in Afghanistan over the years, and I number among the ones who don’t ever want to experience such as loss; I have a brother-in-law who is in the military, he is sometimes sent to the Middle East during his tours of duty. For the sake of him and the rest of our troops, as well as for our nation’s financial stability (which without stability, thanks to the international economy we have developed, would lead to widespread economic collapse,) I, like many others, am glad our country is finally pulling out: in addition to the reasons put forth already, we don’t think we should “meddle” in Afghanistan’s business and government forever. That is, assuming Afghanistan pulls it together in time for 2014.

    It is always lingers heavily in our minds: will we regret pulling out, come 2014? Deep down I feel that we might, and this thought is encouraged by this essay you wrote. So far, our government seems very determined to totally pullout our troops, sure that Afghanistan will be “okay” as it toots its progress with training a coed police force to give order to your country and improving the living conditions and prospects of many Afghans, but we shall have to just wait and see in 2014 what Afghanistan will truly be like, if our efforts were in vain or not. I am, due to my age, quite powerless in the decisions made by my government, so I can only hope this decision isn’t one we will regret.

    Ultimately, it’s in God’s hands. It was a pleasure to read your essay.

  2. Dear Marzia: Thank you for writing this essay! I was not aware of the Taliban’s new “guerilla” tactics–the idea of a would-be terrorist hiding beneath a burqa…or shaving his beard… just to hide in plain sight…. that is frightening! And I understand fully your deep sense of uncertainty. But I cheer loudly and pray for your strength and success when I read of you, and other women, making the choice as to who will govern you. May your country know peace–but peace with justice.

    Warm regards,

  3. Dear Marzia,
    I, too, was very surprised to learn about these new tactics when I first read your piece. I haven’t seen them reported on elsewhere.
    I applaud the way you’ve articulated these issues and then weighed in with your personal opinion: “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.” Thank you for your strength in speaking out on this.

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