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Representative Image. (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Representative Image. (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Afghan pilots resettled in US fear for family they had to leave behind

ANI | Updated: Jan 02, 2022 19:59 IST

Washington [US], January 2 (ANI): Elite Afghan military pilots resettled in the US are fearing for their families left behind in Afghanistan.
Belal Khohestani, a former pilot for the Afghan Special Mission Wing recently moved from Fort Pickett in Virginia to Chicago, fearing for his wife and four children, his two sisters, and his mother, who are still thousands of miles away, trapped in his native Kabul, reported CNN.
In mid-August, he and other pilots from the Special Mission Wing flew their aircraft across the border to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in a desperate bid to keep some of the Afghan military's most advanced equipment from falling into Taliban hands and thereby enabling their own de facto air force.
Many fled the country without their families during the audacious move. They have waited for the US to evacuate their loved ones ever since.
"All those families, they're stuck in Kabul," Khohestani told CNN. He feels a sense of shame that he left his family behind.
"Now everyone is moving around, changing houses, changing apartments," Khohestani said. His wife and children have waited in Afghanistan ever since he left, afraid of the Taliban coming after them.
After the military completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of August, the State Department took over the efforts to bring out American allies and others.
But those evacuation flights, conducted by Qatar Airways and other foreign commercial airlines, have slowed to a trickle as the US works out what sort of diplomatic relationship it will have with the Taliban, reported CNN.

State Department press secretary Ned Price said last week that the US effort to evacuate Afghans at risk, as well as American citizens and green card holders, is ongoing.
"We have continued as well to do what we can to support Afghans to whom we have a special commitment, and that includes those who fall within the category of the (Special Immigrant Visas)," said Price.
Despite the Taliban's promises of amnesty, Khohestani fears retribution against his loved ones.
A Human Rights Watch report released in late November alleged that the Taliban executed dozens of members of the Afghan security forces after they surrendered. The report focuses on a few provinces across the country, but Human Rights Watch says the 47 cases it examined "reflect a broader pattern of abuses" throughout Afghanistan, reported CNN.
Researchers at the organization said the Taliban "have also targeted family members of former security force members."
Another Afghan Hashmatullah Ahmadzai, also a helicopter pilot with the Afghan Special Mission Wing laments that he had not seen his wife and son in more than four months.
The hardest time was right after he arrived in Uzbekistan, he said, because the authorities there took his cell phone. He would wait hours for a three-minute call with his family. Now living in California, he is thousands of miles farther away, but he can communicate with them on messaging services, reported CNN.
For their own safety, Ahmadzai said his family is constantly on the move. His father and brothers were also in the Afghan military fighting the Taliban, which he fears make them a target for retribution.
"We lost everything. Our job, our house, our money. We start here from zero," Ahmadzai said. (ANI)