Afghanistan: Fleeing The Taliban Into Pakistan And Leaving Dreams Behind

image captionWomen and children look exhausted as they wait in the heat

With the Taliban taking control of Afghanistan, thousands have fled their homes in fear. While much of the attention has focused on the crowds thronging Kabul airport, thousands of others have fled to neighbouring Pakistan over the Chaman border. Shumaila Jaffery speaks to some of them.

The Chaman Spin Boldak border is one of the busiest crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan with thousands of traders and travellers passing through this dusty town every day.

But these days, the traffic from the Afghan side is particularly high as thousands flee possible persecution by the Taliban.

From dawn till dusk they pour in – hundreds of men with luggage on their shoulders, burqa-clad women walking briskly behind their men, children clinging to their mothers, exhausted in the scorching heat, and even patients pushed on wheelbarrows.

‘They will raid our houses’

Zirqoon Bibi*, a 57-year-old woman belonging to the minority Hazara community, has only just arrived in Pakistan when I meet her.

The Hazara group has been persecuted by the Taliban in the past, with a recent brutal attack on some men of the community reigniting fears of what Taliban rule would look like for them.

“My heart is burning (with pain)” she repeatedly sobs when I ask how she is. “I ask myself what will become of my son, my only son”.

Her son, who works for a British company, has been trying to leave the country without success.

She says she already lost her daughter-in-law to a bomb blast by the Taliban targeting the Hazara community a few years ago.

“I felt so lost (after her death) that I couldn’t sleep for a long time. The Taliban are terrible people, I am scared of them”.

Before arriving in Pakistan, Zirqoon Bibi was housed in a small makeshift camp on the border with around 24 other Hazara women and children from different parts of Afghanistan.

She left her home in the capital Kabul along with her two daughters and granddaughter.

As she speaks, her granddaughter sits on her lap, completely oblivious to the fact that she has no home now.

“I don’t care about my house or our belongings, I am only worried for my son and his daughter,” Zirqoon Bibi says while gently massaging the child’s shoulders.

“Where can I go? what can I do? I have put this girl’s mother in the grave with my own hands. It takes a lot of effort and love to raise children, I can’t lose another one”.

Zarmeeney Begum*, a 60-year-old Afghan who is a Shia Muslim, has also just arrived with a group of other women. Shia Muslims in Afghanistan have been targeted by the Taliban in the past.

She says when her community received news of the Taliban takeover,

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