A Changing Afghanistan under Taliban’s Rule

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Ali Anwar

The system is not smooth and helpful for those New Zealanders who are facing medical emergencies abroad. Charlotte Bellis’s lawyer alone has handled the cases of over 30 women who were pregnant and were not allowed to enter to their own country due to the strict MIQ system

Charlotte Bellis was a journalist associated with Al-Jazeera. She was in Afghanistan for an official assignment given by her news outlet. Everyone was surprised when the whole world saw her during the inaugural presser of Afghan Taliban after taking the reins of Kabul. Bellis was the only female journalist sitting in the front row of that historical presser that was the centre of attention for the whole world. She was the one who asked the Taliban’s spokesperson that day during the presser that what would be the fate of woman rights in Afghanistan after the takeover of Taliban. She also asked the future of school going girls in the regime of Taliban in Afghanistan. Her questions were very pertinent keeping in view the previous Taliban regime in Afghanistan when the woman rights were not safeguarded back in 90’s.
She was associated with Al-Jazeera and went to Afghanistan to cover the US withdrawal. She got pregnant when she returned to Doha, which was her base-camp as she originally belongs to New Zealand. She got pregnant with her boyfriend who was a freelance photographer. Her partner was still in Afghanistan at that time on official assignment. She came to know that it is illegal to be pregnant in Doha (Qatar) without marriage. She was advised by her doctors to leave Doha immediately. Her native country New Zealand wasn’t allowing her to enter due to strict quarantine system known as ‘Managed Isolation and Quarantine’ (MIQ). She went to Belgium from where her partner belongs but had to leave because of the visa policy of that country. The only other visa that she had was of Afghanistan. The doors of her own country were closed for her so she contacted the Afghan government and asked them to let her as ‘unmarried pregnant women’ in Afghanistan until New Zealand will let her enter. She contacted her source from Taliban government and narrated her complete story. The Taliban agreed to give her entry in Afghanistan. She came to Afghanistan once again and got engaged with her country to get the permission to land in New Zealand.
However, after being refused by New Zealand and no hope in sight, she went public and wrote an article in a newspaper in which she narrated her complete story from beginning to the end. She was denied entry to her own country to deliver her baby but the Taliban allowed her to live in Afghanistan. Being pregnant without a marriage is severe crime in Afghanistan but the Taliban allowed her just because of humanity.
The journalist has praised the Taliban-led Afghan government for helping her and her boyfriend when she was helpless despite the fact that she was unmarried and pregnant. This story speaks volumes of Taliban’s respect for the human rights. While the west continues blaming Taliban for poor state of women rights, her case represents the other side that Taliban are taking care of women rights even if they are not from their own country.
Talking about the strict quarantine system of New Zealand to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has created so many problems for the people. The system is not smooth and helpful for those New Zealanders who are facing medical emergencies abroad. Charlotte Bellis’s lawyer alone has handled the cases of over 30 women who were pregnant and were not allowed to enter to their own country due to the strict MIQ system. Charlotte herself provided more than 59 documents to support her case for return to her country but was still rejected.
The open letter of a journalist has also reiterated the poor health system in Afghanistan. It is on record that more than 20 thousand women die every year giving birth to babies in Afghanistan. The UN wrote just recently that they expect an extra 50,000 women will die during childbirth in Afghanistan by 2025 because of the state of maternity care. This number will further increase this year due to the prevalent humanitarian crisis after the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan last year. The international community should take care of this crisis and Afghan people should be helped just on the humanitarian basis. The whole episode of Charlotte Bellis reveals that the Taliban government is committed to uphold human rights including the women rights.
The strict quarantine rules in New Zealand need to be relaxed as they are damaging their own people. The people of New Zealand, who are in a medical emergency, are at the mercy of other governments despite the fact that there is a huge difference of resources in Afghanistan and New Zealand. Charlotte Bellis was only allowed by her country when she went public with her story otherwise there might be other cases waiting for a fair decision by New Zealand authorities.
The whole episode also highlights the capacity of Taliban government to meet the western demands of women rights and education. The Afghan government alone is unable to run the education and health sectors after the withdrawal of international forces and stoppage of funds. It is need of the hour that international community should step forward to help the Afghan community just on humanitarian grounds. Earlier, Afghan surprised millions of people by defeating the western powers in their land and now they are also surprising the western powers by respecting the basic human rights. The whole episode of the female journalist is a clear evidence of it.