Meet the Fulbright scholar and former Afghan government lawyer who was lucky enough to escape


Henaa Salehi set out on a trip from Kabul to New York for her Fulbright Fellowship, but that all changed during the first leg of her trip to Turkey.

Salehi, who worked in the legal office of the former Afghan president Achraf Ghani, boarded his flight on the morning of August 15. By the time it landed, Kabul had fallen to the Taliban. The Fulbright program organized its flights, she told the Washington Examiner in an interview. She had requested that her flight to the United States take off between August 13 and 16. If they had given her a flight to the far end of this beach, she might not have been able to leave.


“I remember going to the airport at 6 am, and it was just another normal day. I used the public terminal for check-in, boarding and everything, and it was like completely inundated with people, ”she said. , describing the scene at Hamid Karzai International Airport before his departure.

As she prepared for the flight the previous days, the Taliban launched a successful military offensive against Afghan forces, which had the support and training of the U.S. military. When bidding him farewell, several people told him that they were “happy that you are leaving and that you are lucky”. They urged her to “go and concentrate on her studies” and “not think about coming back”. At that point, amid the rise of the Taliban, she described “tensions in the air.”

The Taliban “were taking control of the provinces, they had so many targets with the provinces, but no one would think Kabul would collapse overnight or in a matter of hours,” Salehi added – although this unforeseen outcome has become a reality the morning of his departure. . After she landed in Turkey about six hours after takeoff, Salehi turned on her phone and received “messages from over 50 people”, who informed her of the fall of Kabul.

She also left her family, unaware that the Taliban would take control of the country. While Salehi expressed concern for the welfare of her family, she declined to share details citing the possibility that it could put her loved ones in greater danger.

She had less than an hour from the time she landed to get to her connecting flight, leaving only a small window to communicate with friends and family before embarking on a transatlantic flight to New York City.

Back Afghanistan, many of his colleagues from the Afghanistan National Procurement Authority walked into the office as if it was a normal day, until it was not. With the collapse of Ghani’s government, his colleagues felt “so uncertain,” while others “ran out of the office,” Salehi said.

By the time Salehi’s connecting flight landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport, “it was all over,” she said.

During her first week in New York City, as Salehi tried to acclimate to her new surroundings, she described feeling “frozen” and “in shock”. United States to pursue his Masters in Business and International Trade Law at Fordham University, in addition to being a Fulbright Fellow.

Before Salehi joined the Afghan government’s legal department, she was a commercial lawyer in Kabul and a women’s rights activist. She now fears for the rights of Afghan women and girls who will be subject to Taliban rules on everything from school to dress.


“Now, we certainly came from all this freedom, this democracy, these rights. We are going back to the Stone Age, ”she said, adding that women will no longer have“ any authority over your life ”.

The United States and other Western countries have said they will decide whether or not to recognize the Taliban based on how they treat minorities and women. The Taliban expanded their interim cabinet on Tuesday by appointing additional ministers and lawmakers, though none are female, according to the Associated press.

Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid raised the possibility of including women in the government, but did not provide specific details.

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Key words: New, Afghanistan, War in afghanistan, Women’s rights, New York City, Taliban

Original author: Michel Brest

Original location: Meet the Fulbright scholar and former Afghan government lawyer who was lucky enough to escape


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