The media are reporting that on Wednesday you will announce a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
I am afraid. Specifically I am afraid for my friend Nadima and her family. Nadima is Afghan; she and I went to grad school together. After we earned our degrees, Nadima could have stayed here in the U.S., but she wanted to go home to her family and work to improve her country.
She and her husband are expecting their first child. Nadima has just entered her third trimester. While I am very happy for them, I am also afraid. Nadima has a 1 in 11 chance of dying in pregnancy and childbirth. The maternal mortality rate is one of the reasons Afghanistan was recently named the worst country for women.
A few days ago, Nadima was scared in the middle of the night when she heard religious chanting in the streets. She thought the Taliban had taken over. Fortunately, it was just a celebration of the lunar eclipse.
I am afraid that if we remove too many troops too quickly, Nadima will wake up to find that Taliban have taken over. I don’t need to tell you the unspeakable horrors the Taliban committed, or how terrifying it was to be a woman under the Taliban’s rule. We cannot let that happen again.
I know our country is sick of this war. A friend lost her brother-in-law in Afghanistan. I watched my parents bury my younger sister–I know it is against the natural order for parents to bury their children. But surely it must also be against the natural order for so many women to be so mistreated. For so many women to die in childbirth.
I trust you, Mr. President. Please tell me that we are not abandoning Nadima and millions of other Afghans to a terrible fate. Please tell me we have made progress, and that we will not allow the Taliban to take control. Please reassure me.