Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Hawaii’s Afghans
back U.S. mission

The isle residents say the Taliban's
flight offers hope for future

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Sixty-one-year-old Mir Saidy of Makiki was pleased to hear the Taliban fled the capital of Afghanistan yesterday morning.

"That's good news. I'll sleep with a peace of mind," said Saidy, who fled Kabul during the Russian War in September 1982 with his wife, Atifa, and their five children.

"I want to see my country free," he said.

Isle residents originally from Afghanistan support the U.S. battle with terrorism and attacking the Taliban military forces, which took control in 1996.

U.S. Army Secretary Thomas White said a combination of U.S. military airstrikes and ground movement forced the Taliban to flee Kabul. An air campaign was launched on Afghanistan by President George Bush on Oct. 7 after the Taliban refused to cooperate with the United States on giving the location of Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist attacks.

Saidy, a former linguistics professor of Kabul University, said, "I thank the United States for helping my (home) country."

Twenty-six-year-old Manoa resident Ariya Ahrary said she was surprised the Taliban left.

"I thought they would have never left the capital. ... They have no choice because the northern alliance became larger," said Ahrary, who fled the city of Herat 19 years ago.

Yesterday, the northern alliance captured Herat, and it has moved toward the capital armed with rifles and rocket launchers.

"It's very good that they finally got liberated," said Ahrary, who has five cousins and a step-grandmother in Herat. "We have it back."

Afghan residents who live in Taliban-free areas have liberated themselves from the harsh restrictions of the military force, as a number of men shaved off their beards and music is played in stores.

"It's a good sign to have music again," said Ahrary.

She hopes that all areas of Afghanistan will one day be liberated from the Taliban rule.

Saidy said, "The more progress the northern alliance makes, the happier we become."

Makiki resident Farid Safi said, "They're (the Taliban) finished. Nobody supports them."

While most Kabul natives were elated with the recent news, Nuuanu resident Akram Khalil remained skeptical about the future of Afghanistan.

"It's so unclear, the situation," said Khalil, who is originally from Kabul.

Khalil wondered who will govern the land now that the Taliban has left the capital . "Nobody's in power. That means no rule, no law," he said. "I think it will get worse before it starts getting better."

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