Afghanistan: ‘The day the Taliban took my father’ | World

As the Taliban prepares to form a new government in Afghanistan, a woman tells the BBC the story of how her family was divided when her father disappeared under the Taliban regime in 1999, before the war.

Friba, who lives in London, was 10 years old when he last saw his father at his home in the city of Herat in western Afghanistan.

His family believes he has been kidnapped by the Taliban.

That’s your story. Names have been removed to protect the identity of those affected.

“Living under the control of the Taliban regime is like being in an abusive relationship. In the beginning, it’s okay. They make a lot of promises, are cautious and even keep some of their promises.

But while you’re feeling a false sense of security, they’re carrying out their plans.

Soon, as the world gradually grows weary of Afghanistan and the media turns to other news, the Taliban will be strengthening its power every day and the wild cycle will begin again.

My father was born in Herat and graduated from the University of Kabul.

After college, he got married and started working on a small team in the Afghan government at the time.

When the Russians left and the mujahideen came to power, my father found work at an NGO.

With the arrival of the Taliban in Herat, my father had a chance to flee, but he stayed. He loved his work and he loved Herat.

I will never forget my mother’s face

Life was brutal under the Taliban regime. My father had four daughters who were being robbed of an education, and a boy.

But his job was rewarding, he had ambitions, for him and for us, and working with animals made life a little more bearable.

One morning in mid-June 1999, my father had just finished breakfast and was getting ready to leave for work.

He looked at me and smiled as he got on his bike and walked away.

A few minutes later, some neighbors showed up at our door with their bicycles. They said the Taliban had taken him.

I will never forget my mother’s face. I was frozen in shock.

She took my five-year-old brother’s hand and ran away, desperate to find him.

That night my mother returned with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

There was no news of my father, where he might be or even if he was alive.

The Taliban is back on the streets of Herat — Photo: Getty Images/BBC

My uncles and some friends tried with no luck to find out where he was being held.

Every day, my mother visited the Taliban offices, but they refused to listen to her.

After exhausting all possible means, my uncle went to Kandahar because he learned that the Taliban had taken some prisoners there. But there was no news.

So he went to Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, but he wasn’t there either.

Our neighbors, who witnessed his arrest, were sure they saw how the same Taliban had kidnapped other neighbors and then released them from a prison in Herat.

My mother was strong, a lioness, and she wasn’t going to give up.

Against family advice, she took my brother (because under Taliban rule, she could only travel with one man, even if he was just a boy) and went to Kandahar, to the office of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The Taliban beat her and threatened her. They said that if they saw her again, she would be stoned to death.

My mother returned home disappointed and defeated.

We cannot forgive the Taliban

Life under the Taliban has gone from hell to a black hole of despair.

My mother, fearing for our lives, decided to leave Afghanistan and take us to Mashhad, Iran.

In 2004, when things got better in Afghanistan, we returned. We wanted to study and do something for ourselves.

‘Living under the control of the Taliban regime is like being in an abusive relationship’ — Photo: Anadolu Agency/BBC

Our father had hopes that we wanted to fulfill.

I still remember his charming smile, and I still have the pen he gave me.

We cannot regret his life, and let us not forget him.

As we watch the news about how the Taliban is taking over Afghanistan again, I fear history will repeat itself.

I am now married and live in England. But I fear for my mother, my sisters and my brother, who are still in Afghanistan, and for the millions of families who will suffer pain and loss like us.

His only crime, being born in Afghanistan.”

Produced by Rozina Sini