Afghan town’s first female mayor says Taliban ‘will come for people like me and kill me’

Zarifa Ghafari is one of the first-ever female mayors of an Afghan city, appointed in 2018 as mayor of Maidan Shahr, the capital city of the Wardak province, and with the Taliban now in control of the country Ghafari has little hope for her future.

Speaking with the British newspaper “i,” the 27-year-old mayor said she is waiting to be killed.

“I’m sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I’m just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me,” Ghafari said. “I can’t leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?”

According to the newspaper, the Taliban “has frequently vowed to kill the articulate, politically influential female critic” who tweeted in 2019: “My job is to make people believe in women’s rights and women’s power.”

“Her father General Abdul Wasi Ghafari was gunned down on 15 November last year, just 20 days after the third attempt on her life failed,” the paper reported.

Three weeks ago, Ghafari was a little more hopeful about the future of Afghanistan, but then no one seemed to think the Taliban would rout the Afghan army in the course of one weekend.

“Younger people are aware of what’s happening,” she said then. “They have social media. They communicate. I think they will continue fighting for progress and our rights. I think there is a future for this country.”

For now, the Taliban is playing nice. At least until the Americans and accompanying, media cameras are gone.

Taliban’s chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on Sunday the lives of women and opponents would be protected, according to NBC News.

On Tuesday, Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s cultural commission, announced they would grant “amnesty” across Afghanistan and encouraged women to join the government.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with full dignity and honesty has announced a complete amnesty for all Afghanistan, especially those who were with the opposition or supported the occupiers for years and recently,” Samangani said, according to the Associated Press. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan doesn’t want the women to be the victims anymore … The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is ready to provide women with the environment to work and study, and the presence of women in different (government) structures according to Islamic law and in accordance with our cultural values.”

Mujahid spoke at a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday also in an attempt to calm fears, NBC News reported.

“I would like to assure the international community, including the U.S., that nobody will be harmed in Afghanistan,” he said, according to an Al Jazeera translation. “You will not be harmed from our soil.”

Saying they “don’t have any grudges,” Mujahid added that a Taliban government is committed to the rights of women within the framework of Shariah law and would allow them to work and study, the network noted.

In a Monday interview on MSNBC, former CIA analyst and Afghanistan war veteran Matt Zeller said he was told that the Taliban were going door to door compiling lists of people who worked with the U.S.

“I have Afghans on the ground right now who are telling me they’re going door to door in Kabul and making lists of people who used to work with us,” Zeller said. “They are telling them with smiles on their face, evil smiles, they will be back for them once we leave.”

Mujahid said Tuesday, “We assure you that nobody will go to their doors to ask why they helped.”

Tom Tillison

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