Mahbooba Yousufi should be in India, doing her Master’s in Law at South Asian University, New Delhi. But because of visa issues, she is not able to join her Master’s program in the national capital. She is not alone. Around 2,500 Afghan students, who are students in Indian universities, are stranded in the war-torn nation.
On 15 August 2021, the Taliban entered the capital city Kabul and took control of the country. After that many things changed in the landlocked nation. “Many girls in Afghanistan have not seen school for the last three years. Earlier, it was the pandemic and later the Taliban closed schools for girls,” said Mahbooba. On 18 September 2021, a month after taking over the country, the Taliban ordered the reopening of boys’ secondary schools, but made no mention of girls’ secondary schools. This was interpreted as a ban on girls’ secondary education and even now uncertainty looms, with thousands of girls waiting for the reopening of schools.
Mahbooba feels lucky because she had completed her school education before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, but she is worried about her younger sister. “All school girls are depressed. I have a younger sister, Freshta Yousufi, who is 15 years old and was in Grade 9 before the ban. Every day she cries because she can’t go to school like her brother,” Mahbooba said. Mahbooba is also worried about her own future. She has done her graduation from Kabul University and recently, she was accepted for the LLM program at SAU. “I am not in the right place. I should be in Delhi and studying my course. When I think about myself, I only see darkness, if this all continues,” Mahbooba said. After the Taliban came, women were left with mainly two career options, nursing and teaching.
Humayun, who is currently in between his PhD in International Relations at SAU, New Delhi, and stuck in Kabul narrated his ordeal to The Sunday Guardian. “We don’t have enough electricity supply and because of this, we are not able to charge our mobile phones and laptops. I am a research student, and reading and literature are important for me, but unfortunately, interrupted power supply and low speed of internet are making the conditions worse for me to study,” said Humayun.
On an average, the daily supply of electricity is for 5-6 hours. Availability of books and literature is also a big problem which many higher studies students are witnessing. Most of the libraries are closed and many book shops have shut down. “Many English readers fled the nation after the Taliban came and shopkeepers are not interested in ordering books for higher studies. Many private libraries are closed and government libraries do not have good books,” Humayun said.
Humayun is missing India from where he did his Master’s. “This whole crisis has ruined my PhD studies. I have been waiting for a year for my visa. I don’t know what God has decided,” Humayun added.
Ramazan Danish, who is studying biotechnology at SAU, is depressed. “We should be in the hostel, we need peace of mind,” said Danish.
“I have gone to the Indian embassy several times for a visa. I have also filled in an e-visa, but till now visa is not issued to us. Embassy people are telling us to wait, they have not started issuing the visa,” Danish added.