In the wake of the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban, many in the international community and media have said that efforts in Afghanistan to secure women’s rights and human rights were doomed to fail because of the traditions and culture in my country. This is absolutely the wrong lesson to take away from our experience in Afghanistan. Human rights and women’s rights are not “Western values.”
In May, U.S. forces and other international troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan. Immediately, feminists and Afghanistan experts who feared a return to Taliban rule warned of the severe and brutal impact that would likely be felt by women and minorities in the vacuum created by the removal of international troops in the country.
The protection of human rights and the achievements of the past two decades is a shared responsibility of the United States, the international community and human rights advocates.
The hardworking, brave Afghans who continue to strive for peace are in constant danger due to the Taliban’s war of attrition and the Afghan government’s inability to protect its citizens. This is the reality on the ground and the flame will only become larger if there is a premature withdrawal.
Afghans understand that our young democracy is worth fighting for and we need the support of our friends and allies to stand with us—not to abandon us in this critical time of our history.