Security

Hundreds of women in Ghor province take up arms against Taliban

By Omar

More than 500 women on July 4 took up arms against the Taliban in Firoz Koh, the capital of Ghor province, declaring their readiness to go to the frontlines and support for Afghan security forces. Meanwhile, as many as 500 tribal elders, religious scholars, youth and civil society activists held a rally in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, on July 2 to call for an immediate end to the ongoing violence. [Najibullah Nazari/Muhammad Naeem]

HERAT -- More than 500 women on Sunday (July 4) took up arms against the Taliban in Firoz Koh city, the capital of Ghor province, declaring their readiness to go to the frontlines and support for Afghan security forces.

Khadija Sarwari, a resident of Firoz Koh, said that she would not hesitate to attack Taliban militants.

"I decided to take up arms together with my fellow sisters to stand alongside our security forces to fight the Taliban and defend our people and country," she said.

"We will not let the Taliban and other foreign terrorist groups to rule our country and kill our innocent people."

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Hundreds of women gather in Firoz Koh, Ghor province, on July 4 to take up arms against the Taliban and declare their support for Afghan security forces. [Ghor governor's press office]

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More than 500 residents of Taloqan, the provincial capital of Takhar, rally on July 2 to demand an immediate ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government. [Muhammad Naeem]

All women are ready to defend their country alongside the Afghan security forces, said Zahra Watandost, another Firoz Koh resident.

"We will not allow the Taliban to enter cities and harm civilians," she said, adding that she will fight the Taliban to the last drop of her blood.

"The Taliban have committed severe crimes against innocent civilians -- especially women -- for many years. However, our brave women will no longer be silent or tolerate the Taliban's atrocities."

The uprising of Ghor women against the Taliban represents an uprising against ignorance and darkness, said Masoumeh Anwari, the deputy provincial governor.

The Taliban have no place among the public and no one accepts the oppression and ignorance of this terrorist group, she said.

"The Taliban should realise there is no military solution to the conflict," Anwari said.

Dark days of oppression

"We, the new generation, will fight the terrorist Taliban with a pen or a gun," said Nadia Ahmadi, a resident of Firoz Koh.

Afghan women will not allow the Taliban to usurp their country and take innocent civilians hostage, Ahmadi said.

Afghan society still remembers the oppression, barbarism and violence that it experienced under the Taliban regime, she added.

Anisa Ghayour, a member of the Ghor provincial council, said that Afghan women are fully aware of their civil rights and will not let the Taliban enforce their harsh and disgraceful rule.

"The Taliban have always undermined the important role of the Afghan women in society, and if they regain power, they will definitely confine women inside their homes and close down girls' schools," she said.

No power, including the Taliban, can overshadow and jeopardise the progress of Afghan women and girls, Ghayour said.

"Many Afghan women still remember the Taliban's dark days and will not allow those days to prevail again," she said. "The Taliban must recognise the power and courage of Afghan women."

The time of ignorance and darkness of the Taliban is over, and Afghans will not allow that era to be repeated, said Zulaikha Mohseni, also a Firoz Koh resident.

"Afghan women and girls have made significant gains over the past two decades, and they will not compromise them at all," she added.

"Afghan women and girls will never want to go backwards."

Rejecting the Taliban

In the face of a surge in Taliban attacks in recent weeks, thousands of Afghans throughout the country have taken up arms and pledged to fight militants alongside security forces.

As many as 500 tribal elders, religious scholars, youth and civil society activists held a rally in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, on July 2 to call for an immediate end to the violence.

Any surge in violence by the Taliban will result in more civilian casualties and displace thousands of families in Takhar, said Abdul Qadir Fazeli, a civil society activist in Takhar.

"The people are fed up with the continuation of violence and fighting, and the Taliban must stop it now," he said.

If the Taliban continue to fight and believe in seizing power by force, they should know the Afghan people will rise up and defeat them, he added.

The Taliban are making a historic mistake by taking the military path and stepping away from the peace process, said Gulabuddin Qani, a military analyst in Herat city.

"If the Taliban manage to regain power militarily, they must understand their government will not survive because Afghans will never accept them and they cannot impose their rule by force," he said.

The Taliban have lost the public's trust because over the past two decades, they have only killed many innocent Afghans and destroyed Afghanistan, Qani said.

"They failed to make any achievement to keep the public satisfied."

The Taliban must realise that the only option they have is to sit at the negotiation table, make peace and create an inclusive government, he added.

The Taliban must give up working for the interests of neighbouring and regional intelligence agencies and listen to the demands of the Afghan public, said Hamza Baloch, a political analyst in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz province.

"The Taliban should know they cannot regain power by pursuing their endless waves of killings and destructive activities," he said.

Afghans, especially in urban areas, have made great gains and progress over the past two decades, and the new Afghan generation will never respect the Taliban's ideology, Baloch said.

"Any Taliban attempts to capture cities will be resisted because the Taliban's extremism has no place among city dwellers," he said, adding that the Taliban have no other option but to create a broad-based government.

[Hedayatullah from Kunduz contributed to this report.]

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