AFGHAN PRESENTER SPEAKS OF FEAR AND HOPE AS TROOPS WITHDRAW
Afghan pastor and presenter Shoaib Ebadi shares how locals fear the impact on their safety and human rights as the United States and NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan. Despite this, Pastor Shoaib is heartened by his faith and by the strength of Afghanistan’s young people – and he calls for unity at this crucial moment.
“The majority of Afghan people have some fear. People who remember the previous regime and its collapse think the current government may also collapse, and they fear that possibility. Younger people, who are the majority of the population, have no experience of that period but have lived with suicide bombings and killings. Many want to have peace and the end of killing and violence,” shared Shoaib after a recent episode of the SAT-7 program, Secrets of Life.*
“My hope, first and foremost, is in the Lord Himself,” says Shoaib. Similarly, the pastor empathises with Afghanistan’s youth and understands their fears
“One thing young Afghans fear is the loss of the relative freedoms they have been enjoying – freedom of the media; freedom of women to work and be educated. They fear that these may be lost under a Taliban-led regime, especially freedoms relating to politics and the media,” he continues.
Widespread corruption is another challenge, but Shoaib says, “These young people and women have begun the struggle and are taking action to expose it. They are promoting peace and are very active online and playing a central role in Afghan society.”
Pastor Shoaib is heartened by the countries’ young population.
“Today young people are motivated to open their eyes and ears… to gain knowledge and understanding in all kinds of fields. They want to mature and build their lives because they see what is happening in the rest of the world and compare. Whatever their ethnic backgrounds, they challenge the values and religious beliefs with which they have grown up.
“Young Afghans are able to express their beliefs and opinions. Women in Afghanistan are free to go to sports centres and stadiums, for example, to see a football match.” Indeed, women have become “an important force in the economy of Afghanistan, particularly in the cities.” He points out that they are visible in the media, politics, and the economy and will not be willing to live under more restrictive conditions.
Reports indicate that Taliban groups have made significant gains in recent months, especially in the north and rural areas, and now control around a third of all districts. Afghan government, UN and human rights participants expressed grave concerns at the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council over the spike in violence targeting civilian populations, human rights defenders, and media workers. They also noted the disproportionate targeting of girls and women; an issue addressed on Secrets of Life following a terrible triple car bomb attack on a high school in May.
“The people of Afghanistan have to be responsible for making their own decisions. The people must come together and be united in protecting their freedoms and decide their own future.”
- Pray for the end of terrorism and violence in Afghanistan, and especially for protection for girls and women seeking education, journalists, and human rights advocates.
- Pray for Afghanistan’s leaders, that they will seek wise counsel and guide with humility and integrity, and that appropriate solutions will bring peace, reconciliation, and healing.
- Pray that Afghans will tangibly experience God’s peace through this time of change.
*Secrets of Life is a Dari-dialect program made by SAT-7 partner Pamir Christian Ministries and aired weekly on SAT-7 PARS.