“The Taliban are terrorists. I ask that the Taliban not be recognized as a government. Because we Afghans don’t believe in the Taliban. They are terrorists.” This is how he talks with Adnkronos Shekib Nooristani, an Afghan army officer, forced to leave his Kabul after the surrender of the Afghan capital to the Taliban. Nooristani is in Turin and tells his story, the story of his family, of his work that made him a target for the Taliban, on the day of the extraordinary videoconference meeting of the G20 leaders on Afghanistan, chaired by Mario Draghi. The first thing he says is that he is “sorry that the world is recognizing the Taliban as a government”. For him it is equivalent to throwing away “20 years of sacrifices of us Afghans, but also of you Italians, the Italian government and the Afghan military, in the war against terrorists”.
“I am very small, a simple man, to understand what really happened in Afghanistan, but we did not expect Kabul to be taken by the Taliban so easily – he says – We were told that the army would be able to fight against the Taliban even if the foreigners, the Americans, the coalition forces had left Afghanistan because there would have been logistical support “.
“As a military officer, I can say that it is politics that made us lose this war – he says – And today I ask the world to give the remaining Afghans in the country the possibility of leaving Afghanistan”. Nooristani says he “worked with foreigners” and does not want to know for which country. And he launches an accusation: “The big mistake was made when people who did not work with foreigners were put on board on the first American military flight. And that is why those who should have been evacuated from Kabul remained in Afghanistan”.
If you ask him about his history, Shekib, born in 1986, is a river in flood. His ‘first’ Italy was in 2005, when he arrived in our country “through the Afghan Ministry of Defense to attend the Military Academy, two years in Modena, three years at the Application School in Turin, and then returned to Afghanistan “. The same Turin to which he returned after the fall of Kabul, where “in the last period” he worked as a “military magistrate”. “I also took the terrorists captured by the Afghan military to court – he says – And when I speak of terrorists, I speak of the Taliban”. Those who are once again the masters of Afghanistan. “My life was in danger for the job I had.” And he continues: “A year ago I was at the Kabul Military Prosecutor’s Office, but due to corruption in the government I had to resign”.
Shekib speaks of “true values”, of a military father too. “I could not continue with a corrupt government – he says – and lately I was working with foreigners”. He has a six-year-old daughter, Jannat, who “will start school next week, the Italian school”, and a wife, Aysha, who he hopes will start an Italian course soon. He has been speaking Italian for years and recounts in detail his desperate escape from Kabul, since he was in his office in mid-August and received the order to “go home, keep your bags ready, with the family, for a call for evacuation from Kabul that could have come at any time “. Shekib remembers the “thousands” of people on the street, a Kabul blocked by traffic jams, the lines in front of banks to withdraw cash, the difficulties in returning home, “near the airport”. “I called the foreigners I worked with – he says – some did not answer, the phones of others were turned off”.
‘we no longer had a normal life’
His words flow as if he were reliving minute by minute, second by second according to the desperate flight from Afghanistan, the fear of those days, of the “hunt for those who worked with foreigners”, the feeling and the certainty that “everyone just wanted to save himself”. It seems to have images of “policemen leaving checkpoints and uniforms to put on civilian clothes and go away”. While the Taliban took back Kabul. “Our leaders assured us that if something went wrong they would take us out of Afghanistan,” he urges. And instead he tells of a first night spent with his wife and daughter “at an uncle’s house” of his mother, of “jokes” to try to contain Jannat’s “fear”, of the awareness of being “a danger to others too” and houses changed every night. Of a life “that was no longer normal”.
Meanwhile, “five days have passed” and Shekib reconstructs the attempt with his family to reach the Kabul airport, a symbol of hope for many, many Afghans. He remembers the hellish situation, “among the women crying, the Taliban beating men and women, shoving children” and his “lost suitcase” in the crowd “with all the documents inside, even the degree in Italy and the certificate of marriage”. She talks about an impossible situation for such a young girl and the decision to go back, with the conviction that “if there is a plan they will take us away with dignity and respect” and at the same time the realization that “if this is not the case, we will have to stay. in Afghanistan “.
‘I lifted my daughter up along the barbed wire and no one took her on the other side’
Then, Shekib says, “my Italian colleagues begin to contact me”. On “23 August” the new attempt to reach the airport. “Five hours” of agony, “between the exit from which we were prevented from entering and the entrance that was somewhere else” and the “jump with his wife and daughter into the open sewer channel” that a few days later it would have become sadly famous throughout the world for the massacre of 26 August signed by the local branch of the Islamic State (Is-K). “There were 4-5,000 people in that sewer channel,” he recalls, but “on the other side of the sewer I realized we were finally safe.”
His mind takes him back to when he lifted his “daughter along the barbed wire and no one took her on the other side”. “On the other side no one could hear my voice, my daughter’s shoes were attached to the barbed wire”, he recalls, as if he still wanted to scream because Shekib is a man for whom “it would be useless to live” without Jannat and Aysha. He stayed with them “for two nights and two days at the airport, before leaving on a military plane with the German flag for Uzbekistan”. Then Germany. Then Fiumicino. And the Red Cross. It is at this point that the word “normality” returns to his story.
‘for my daughter I dream of the values and respect that you teach your children here in Italy’
From Fiumicino to the Emergency Operations Center of the Italian Red Cross in Avezzano. “Words are not enough to give thanks. We cannot find the right words – he says – They took care of us. Without making us lack anything we needed. Even the little things”. “Eight days” in which he acted as an “interpreter”. Then from Avezzano to the center of Settimo Torinese. Three more days. And then for Shekib and his family the doors of an “apartment in Turin opened, with 100 euros of guaranteed spending per week and 2.50 euros per day”.
Shekib is happy because “last Monday he had a temporary residence permit”, he hopes for political asylum and a job because “we men are not made to stay at home”. He is worried about “mom and sisters who are in Turkey”. A dream? “For me life went as it went, but I am positive even if the problem is the future – he replies – For my daughter who will grow up in Italian society, I dream of the values and respect that you teach your children here in Italy”.