Editor’s note: A majority in the 2,500-member Loya Jirga council of elders on November 24 endorsed a joint security agreement allowing a contingent of 10,000 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond. It now is up to President Hamid Karzai to sign before the end of this year. The Taliban opposes the bilateral agreement.
For me, a woman who suffered through dark times, hopelessness, and risk and who spent her youth in fear through the different political regimes, the recent Loya Jirga had a lot of meaning.
From the beginning, I believed the document on keeping an international force in Afghanistan should be signed as soon as possible. That was the chief task of the Loya Jirga, to vote on the terms of what will happen next year in Afghanistan.
I know most of my countrymen and women would agree that without the support of the USA, we—especially women—would not have been able to come out of those days twelve years ago.
I experienced these dark days myself in 1996 when I lost the chance to attend school. My sister lost her chance to attend university and my brothers spent their education in fear of how to dress and with other worries.
My parents could not do anything because it was not under their control. All Afghan girls had to go for five years without being permitted to go to school. If in 2001 the U.S. had not come to Afghanistan to support us, I am sure we would still be in the same situation.
When the U.S. military troops entered Afghanistan, women started their lives and education over again. We learned for the first time about human rights. We heard about women’s rights and how women can have a presence in all sectors of society. Without this support we would not have been able to improve our lives as women.
Soon we will witness two important events in our country: the April presidential elections and the withdrawal of foreign troops. I am sure that without the signing of this important agreement, all of our futures, and especially for women, will be at risk.
During the past few days, I saw how most of the participants in the Jirga hold the same opinion as I do, and I am happy to see what happened. During the Loya Jirga I was very curious to learn about President Karzai’s opinion, so I followed the news on TV and the Internet, and on my friends’ Facebook pages.
The recent vote on the agreement opens a bright future. I am not as worried as I was a week ago when it seemed the document might not be signed. I worried about what I would do, where I would go, and what would happen to my future and my country’s hopes.
I hope to start my own NGO to work with women on how to start a small business. After this Jirga, I feel relieved and I think that I can reach this dream. My family members were all very nervous and worried about the Jirga, but now they also are hopeful and pray for a peaceful Afghanistan.
Overall I see this agreement between Afghanistan and America as a sign of peace, happiness, and brighter future for Afghans.
Photo: Massoud Hossaini / AFP