By: MPAC Policy Bureau
Zaki was a member of the Afghan youth soccer team with his entire life ahead of him. On Monday of this week, he decided the best way to ensure his future was to cling to a United States’ military plane. Sadly, he fell and never had a chance to see adulthood nor realize his potential.
Just think about that for a moment. A child, not yet 18 years old, who achieved stardom for his play on the pitch and dreaming of one day representing his country on the national team, deciding that was his only chance of survival.
Young Zaki never lived under Taliban rule. He was born after the invasion of Afghanistan, which ousted the government that harbored those responsible for the attacks on 9/11. He never saw the torture, both physical and mental, that his fellow Afghans were subjected to. He never saw the bodies strewn about the streets after the Taliban had killed them for what they believed to be crimes. He never saw the fear and desperation in the eyes of those around him when the Taliban had control. He only heard the stories, and he knew that clutching onto that plane was the only way out.
Tragically, he was not alone in thinking that grabbing a hold of a plane already in motion was the only way to get to safety. By now, we’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of Afghans scrambling to leave the country by rushing onto the tarmac at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
This is how bad it has gotten.
Millions of people are crying out for help, desperate to leave the only place they have called home. As Americans and American-Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to do our level best to help our brothers and sisters in faith and humanity. Please help them by calling on your elected officials, to:
- Guarantee safe passage for Afghan civilians and contractors who engaged the US military.
- Create a “safe-zone” within Afghanistan where the vulnerable can remain safe while their entry to the United States is being finalized.
- Commit to removing quota limits for Afghan refugees.
- Immediate unconditional ceasefire.
- Invest in Afghan civil society for development and humanitarian aid.
- Work with regional actors and hold them accountable.
- Ensure that at the very least, the basic human rights of Afghans are being prioritized by holding the Taliban accountable — they must know the consequences of not doing so.