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Responsibility & Conscience!

A sense of responsibility and feeling of guilt towards Hassan prompted Amir to return to Afghanistan in order to rescue Sohrab. He also returned from the US as he used to miss his motherland, even after living a safe life thousand miles away from home. The situation of Amir, the lead character of the novel The Kite Runner, was just like his creator Khaled Hosseini (b. March 4, 1965). Since 2003, the Afghan-American novelist and physician (and also the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador) has been portraying a different Afghanistan, hiding behind the war-ravaged nation, in his works. His novels depict the simple lifestyle of the Afghan people, their culture and struggles with a ruthless future. Although Hosseini and his family had left Afghanistan in 1976 for the US, he still misses his birthplace, Kabul.

Because of love for his countrymen, Hosseini has expressed serious concern over the current political situation in Afghanistan on the Social Media, after the Taliban returned to Power in the South Asian country on August 15, 2021 (after 20 years). The famous author has admitted that it is not possible for him to predict the future of Afghanistan. He only feels that Afghanistan is slowly heading towards destruction!

Khaled Hosseini

Hosseini has recalled that Kabul was a different city altogether during his childhood. No one dared to tarnish the dignity and self-respect of women in Kabul at that period of time, and their Personal Liberty was intact, said the author. He visited the Afghan capital in 2003, 27 years after leaving the city. Upon his arrival, he found that Kabul was making a slow recovery after the fall of the first Taliban Regime in 2001. “I was in Afghanistan early in 2003, and in those days, there was virtually no insurgency. There was this very heady optimism about this semi-Jeffersonian Democracy, and about where the country was headed – gender equality, rights for girls and women, people being able to participate in an open and representative political process,” he stressed.

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan on August 15, 2021 has shocked Hosseini. Immediately after receiving the news, he expressed concern for his friends and family members, living in the country, Human Rights activists, and all those who work for Women’s Rights. Hosseini has said that he is deeply sceptical about the Taliban claiming to have changed and fears for women living under their rule to vanish. “During the Taliban’s earlier rule, Afghanistan was maybe the worst place on the planet to be a woman. I am worried about women’s voices being silenced under the Taliban regime,” he added. Hosseini further said that the Taliban’s statement on Women’s Rights within the boundaries of Islam was entirely open to interpretation.

On Facebook, the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns wrote: “There are many lasting horrific images from the last time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan: the public beatings, the cutting off of hands, the executions inside stadiums, the barbaric and senseless destruction of historical artefacts. But for me, the lasting mental picture of the Taliban circa 1990’s is that of the stick holding Talib beating a burqa-clad woman.” He also wrote: “The Taliban systematically terrorised women. They took away their freedom of movement, their freedom to work, their right to education, their right to wear jewellery, to grow their nails or paint them, to laugh in public, to even show their faces. Is that what is in store for my cousin? For her daughter? And the countless brave Afghan women who for 20 years laboured to achieve some measure of autonomy, dignity, and selfhood?

Meanwhile, Hosseini has strongly criticised the US for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Talking to the media, the author said that he, like many other Afghans, had supported the US’ role, initially. However, he is critical of President Joe Biden’s recent speech for failing to convey “empathy” with the millions of Afghans “now left behind to fend for themselves”. Hosseini stressed: “The other thing I didn’t hear clearly was what the legacy of the last 20 years was, what was it all for? Before this chaotic withdrawal, we could at least point to some progress in Afghanistan. While the last 20 years have certainly been challenging and beset by missteps and tragedies, it is also true that there has been progress in Afghanistan and most notably with women.” According to Hosseini, it is unfortunate that the US has to accept defeat to the group whose destruction was the main aim of Washington DC in 2001. Now, the Afghan people will be ruled by an outfit that the US has identified as a terror group, he said.

Keeping in mind the current security situation of Afghanistan, the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador has urged the US and its partners to “keep their borders open”. He told the press: “They need to support neighbouring countries, who are facing the influx of refugees, to support them economically.” Hosseini further said: “They also need to put diplomatic pressure on the Taliban not to enforce violence on the Afghan people and to respect the fundamental Human Rights of Afghan citizens, particularly women and girls.

The 56-year-old best-selling author told the media: “I am not a representative of Afghanistan. I just talk about the people of my country in my novels. Believe me, the people of Afghanistan are tired of 40 years of continuous war. They need shelter, peace and dignity.

A Taliban fighter walks past a beauty salon, where the posted images of women have been defaced, in Kabul

It may be noted that in his The Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini has given another idea about the Afghan Society… and both his narration and the current scenario are matched somewhere. Although the author has narrated the atrocities, abusive or sodomising bullies, and condition of the Afghan women in this novel, he has also expressed hope that Afghanistan will return to normalcy, one day. Shamsia Hassani (b. April 1988), the first female Graffiti Artist of Afghanistan, a Fine Arts Lecturer, and the Associate Professor of Drawing and Anatomy Drawing at the Kabul University, and French-Afghan Writer and Filmmaker Atiq Rahimi (b. February 26, 1962) have also portrayed a different picture of their motherland in their works.

Shamsia Hassani

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