As a teenager, Gulafroz Ebtekar wondered what he could do to help change the image of his country. By then US forces had already occupied Afghanistan putting an end to the repressive Taliban government (1996-2001) that ostracized its then nearly 20 million inhabitants.
End of international evacuations leaves tens of thousands of people behind: “How can you say ‘mission accomplished’?”
New hopes were outlined at that moment for the women and Ebtekar decided what he would do: he would be a policeman. After passing through the Academy in Kabul, she was admitted to one of the main police training centers in Moscow where she completed a master’s degree. The Afghan woman speaks fluent Russian.
Upon his return to Afghanistan, he quickly stood out in the Ministry of the Interior. There she became Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations with dozens of people, most of them men, under her charge. His career seemed unstoppable, but everything went wrong in March of this year with the increasing advance of the Taliban. “The situation changed radically in one day,” he says.
At that moment, with his career ambitions frustrated and waiting for what was already coming, Gulafroz lost hope. Today she only wants to leave the country with her husband, her mother and her three brothers, but not even the embassy in Moscow responded to her request for help, claiming that they did not have a Russian passport or residence. The Afghan suspects that “deep down they did not want to upset the Taliban.”
The US soldiers, who remained stationed inside the airport until their final departure from Afghanistan last Monday, did not help her either. “When I saw them I breathed. I thought we were already safe.” However, the Americans, who disregarded her police documents, ended up expelling her and escorting her to another area of the airport. The one at the Abbey access gate, the same one where on August 27 an attack perpetrated by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State (ISIS-K) killed a hundred people.
After what happened, Ebtekar decided to go home momentarily, but the Taliban were already looking for her. This Thursday he changed residence again. From her new refuge, the ex-police officer talks to elDiario.es on the phone, a few hours after the announcement was made. murder of a police officer who worked in a prison in Ghor province, western Afghanistan. He expressly requests that his name and his photo be published.
Most of his female compatriots want to remain anonymous. Publishing your identity is dangerous. Why do you want to take this risk?
The Taliban are looking for me, I know I am in danger, but they will not shut me up. Anyway I have nothing left, I have lost everything. At least tell my story and put my name on it. May the voice of Afghan women not be silenced.
Are you now in a safe place?
Today there is no safe place in Afghanistan for people like me. This Thursday we moved again after the Taliban kidnapped my brother near where we were. He has also been in the police, when he went to buy at the market. My family and I started moving the day the Taliban took Kabul. Now we are in hiding. I can’t go out with my face uncovered because they know me. If I want to do it, I have to cover myself completely, it’s the only way.
A few days from the departure of the last American plane, What is the situation?
They tell us that what is happening in Afghanistan is no longer so present on the networks or is not in the news as much, but my family and I continue to live in fear and we are eager to leave the country. When NATO forces were here we had some hope for the future, but now we are very concerned that Afghanistan may become a new battleground between different powers or countries, or that another civil war may even start. In my house we are anguished by what may happen.
And what about the “general amnesty” What did Taliban spokesman Zabihulla Mujahid promise shortly after the capture of Kabul? You don’t believe it either …
I can only tell you that on the second day of entering the city they already went to my house and searched it. Fortunately most of my family and I were at the airport. We don’t know what could have happened if we had stayed. I don’t believe in his amnesty at all.
Now that the majority of the international community is gone, do you expect the same atrocities that you already committed when you took over the government (1996 – 2001)?
26 years ago at first it was all relatively normal until they found the addresses of those who had fought against them. They went house to house and took revenge. Now they have already beaten many women and hanged or killed people who work in the government. There are no guarantees that this time it will be different no matter how much they say yes.
You have held a relevant position within the Afghan security forces, how do you feel knowing that you will lose your rights?
I had 20 years of education and a good position in the Government, now everything returns to zero point. I have a bad feeling, not only for all the women who worked in the Afghan forces, but also for those who have been the only pillar in supporting their families. That’s my case, I don’t know how I’m going to support my people.
There are confirmed cases of summary executions of former members of the Afghan security forces, including senior police officers from provinces such as Badghis or Farah. How to control fear?
The only thing that reassures me a bit is that until now they do not know my address or that of other colleagues I know. For now they don’t know where we are and I haven’t seen anything happen to anyone around me …
And the civilians?
Yes, to civilians, yes. A group of 18 Hazaras (ethnic group professing Shiite Islam, enemy of the Pashtuns, who are Sunni) have recently been massacred in Daikundi (one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan). Some of them were related to me. They fought the Taliban and after arresting them, they massacred them. This is the closest case that I know of.
Let’s talk about the taking of Kabul. It is repeated ad nauseam that the Afghan forces did not fight the Taliban in part because the commanders had already agreed to hand over their weapons …
What I can tell you is that during the war we sacrificed many of our brave young soldiers. We did our job, but we were unaware that there was actually a great pact signed above to deliver everything to him. Everything was sold …
Before the entry of the Taliban, various public officials and members of the security forces had complained for months that they were not receiving their salaries. Was it also your case?
Yes, in my case I was three months without payment. In my house the only source of income was my salary. Soon we won’t even have money to buy food.
In your experience as a senior police officer, what do you think is the current relationship between the Taliban and Al Qaeda on the one hand, and the Taliban and the Islamic State on the other?
The first two have a long-standing relationship. With the seconds they are in contact. There are families in Afghanistan where they are mixed. They all know each other.
What do you expect from the new government?
Wait, little. In Afghanistan there are two very important crises. The first is economic and the second, human, for the departure from the country of the people most prepared to take charge of the institutions. In the area of security, the Taliban will be able to control the territory, but they will not be able to administer it in the economic, social or labor spheres. There they will face many problems.
They assure that the airport will begin operating commercial flights in the next few days. Qatar and Turkey are contributing on the technical side. What do you know about the situation at the borders?
Many people have fled to Pakistan. The rest of the borders are closed to the majority. When they are opened, many Afghans will try to leave, I assure you.
In your current circumstances it is difficult to ask you about the future, but what do you intend to do?
The first thing is to stay safe as long as possible. Until they find us, we are relatively safe. The idea is to keep trying to go out with my family and mine because here there is no longer hope. For me in Afghanistan today there is only darkness. Please post my story and what you are doing to us.