August 4, 2019
by Humayoon Babur
In September 2015, after months of attacks, the Taliban took control of a strategic northern Afghan city of Kunduz.
The collapse marked the first time since 2001 that the regime, previously ousted by a U.S.-led invasion, overran a major city.
Fighting between Afghan Security Forces and the Taliban broke out in nearly every corner of the city, leading to a spiral of blood and unrest.
As a consequence of the turmoil, scores of civilians were killed and wounded, private property was torched or ruined by airstrikes or crossfire, and residents were trapped in their houses for dozens of days without access to water, food and medication.
The day after the collapse, the Taliban fighters sought out the remaining Afghan Security personnel, and government employees were also targeted.
Meanwhile, ordinary people were threatened and fled to neighboring provinces.
“Immediately, within a few minutes everything has changed, the entire city becomes a battlefield,” said Massoud Rahmani, an eyewitness and permanent resident of Kunduz.
”I thought, I lost everything, the dreams and future wishes have been demolished forever,” he said. “I realized that being stronger, working hard and consistently; that could be a remedy for broken hearts and the key to success.”
Last July, Mr. Rahmani graduated from Istanbul City University with an MBA in finance and banking, but still he recalled the bitterness of the Kunduz battle.
Mr. Rahmani,28, has worked for Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission as a database specialist for the northeastern region of Afghanistan, based in Kunduz, for several years.
At the time of chaos, he was unable to escape to safety along with his parents and six siblings. “I was very frightened, unable to take a decision and asked myself where I should go?’” Mr. Rahmani explained.
Eventually, Mr. Rahmani and six siblings fled the city by the insecure highway of Baghlan province, arrived in Northern Balkh province and then moved to Kabul. Three days later, his parents were evacuated by Afghan National Army helicopter to Kabul.
In Kabul, Mr. Rahmani said, “I was approached by someone looking for a rental house, and suddenly a suicide bomber blew himself up. By chance I survived,” he recalled.” There was no hope, no future anymore, just a bunch of calamities.”
Mr. Rahmani’s family, like thousands of other Afghans, sought safety in Europe. Mr. Rahmani’s entire family accepted a dangerous illegal sea route that took months, and finally reached Germany and resettled as refugees. Mr. Rahmani remained in Kabul.
In accordance with the UN refugee agency, in 2015, more than 1 million refugees and migrants reached Europe by sea, with almost 4,000 feared drowned.
After several months, Mr. Rahmani received a Turkish visa, and in late February 2016 left for Istanbul. He hoped to reunite with the rest of his family in Germany, but, like thousands of other refugees, he was unable to find a safe way out of Istanbul.
In the meantime, learning Turkish remained a real hurdle for him on the way to receiving higher education abroad.
However, he persisted. Mr. Rahmani ultimately enrolled in — and graduated from — Istanbul City University. Mr. Rahmani said he plans to return to Afghanistan and serve again as a state employee, either in Kunduz or elsewhere.
“I celebrated my graduation ceremony alone — I couldn’t share it with my parents. But I realize that Afghanistan needs more educated and energetic youths like me to rebuild it and fleeing for asylum abroad is not a logical solution at all,” Mr. Rahmani added.
Since 2018, the unemployment rate in Afghanistan has remained unchanged, according to a recent World Bank report that said the economic recovery is slow due to insecurity, political fragility, widespread corruption, peace talks with the Taliban, and presidential elections due in September.
Mr. Rahmani worries he won’t be able to find employment if he returns to Afghanistan.
“Getting a decent job amid the rampant corruption and nepotism would be an unsolved challenge for the long term,” he said.” If you are a member of a political party, then everything would be fine. Otherwise, it’s terrible — the recruitment process should be accountable and merit-based.”