After U.S. And Taliban Agree To Reduce Violence, Afghan Americans Wonder What's Next
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The U.S. is working on the first stages of what officials hope will lead to a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. So far, both sides have agreed to only a one-week period of reduced violence - not a total cease-fire. Watching these developments closely is the large community of Afghan Americans in the San Francisco Bay area. Sara Hossaini from member station KQED reports.
SARA HOSSAINI, BYLINE: The preliminary agreement announced Friday is the first step toward ending the U.S.'s longest-running war. Administration officials say the Taliban would be required to stick to a week-long reduction in violence, after which it would have to sit down with Afghan officials and civic leaders to figure out just what role the Taliban will play in the future of Afghanistan.
How does that strike you?
NAHID FATTAHI: Yeah, worried.
HOSSAINI: That's Nahid Fattahi of Fremont. As the Taliban tightened their grip on her hometown of Herat back in the mid-'90s, Fattahi says her parents made the agonizing choice to send her to Canada at the age of 14 to marry a man who promised to provide her a better life and education. The marriage, she says, was unbearable, and she divorced.
FATTAHI: Today, you know, I'm a successful woman. But nonetheless, I was also a victim of the Taliban, a victim of the system. And so that's why when the peace talk with the Taliban started, it was just very anger-provoking for many Afghans.
HOSSAINI: Fattahi argues that many things have improved since the U.S. invaded, such as education for girls. And she wants to make sure those gains are locked in to any plan for the country's next phase.
FATTAHI: It should ensure that any agreement with the Taliban preserves and respects the human rights of Afghan women, as well as those of the diverse religious and ethnic groups and other marginalized communities.
NAJLA JANES: I just hope that it's a peaceful transition. And I hope that the people are not going to be, you know, caught in the middle.
HOSSAINI: Najla Janes of El Cerrito, who escaped to the U.S. with her family as a toddler just after the Soviet invasion in 1979, says close family who still live there report feeling less safe, with the constant threat of bombings and attacks over the last half a dozen years, than they did under the Taliban's oppressive grip.
JANES: I never, ever thought that that day would ever come where the only option for peace in that country would be to re-invite a regime of sorts to come in and run the country again. But, you know, if the U.S. pulls out, I mean, what other choice does Afghanistan have?
HOSSAINI: Janes says Afghans like her aunt, who never left the country, are skeptical that American troops will actually leave. The Trump administration has only outlined the possibility of reducing its troop presence from 12,000 to 8,600 so far. In the midst of what seems like endless foreign interference and internal chaos, Adam Shaghasi of Fremont is not convinced his home country is prepared to be without them.
ADAM SHAGHASI: Afghanistan going to be messed up if U.S. going to get out from there.
HOSSAINI: Like many, Shaghasi is scarred by his home country's decades of war - quite literally - with bullet wounds dotting his arms. He came here nearly two decades ago, just after 9/11. Since then, some half a million Afghans and more than 22,000 Americans have been killed or wounded in the nearly $1 trillion conflict.
For NPR News, I'm Sarah Hossaini in Fremont.
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