After the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they systematically targeted, tortured, and killed former government security and defense forces. Tens of thousands who had fled to Iran and Pakistan after the collapse of the previous government now face widespread challenges. Many of these forces are engaged in demanding tasks in neighboring countries and express concerns that returning to Afghanistan would jeopardize their lives. In a recent development, more than five thousand ex-military personnel have addressed an open letter to the United States Congress. In this letter, they appeal for America’s attention to the dire situation faced by former security forces in Iran and Pakistan. The letter from former military personnel underscores their collaborative efforts in the international fight against terrorism, alongside U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
One former security force member, who recently went to Iran, reveals witnessing the detention, disappearance, and killing of his comrades over the past two years. Preferring not to disclose his name, he asserts that about three months ago, he and his family came to Iran through a smuggler and are now at risk of forced deportation. This former military personnel has emphasized living discreetly in Afghanistan for the past two years but has ultimately been compelled to leave the country.
This former military official, who once played a role in ensuring the security of the people of Afghanistan, now finds himself grappling with security issues. Bearing the weight of a difficult history of migration and torture in his homeland, he carries deep sorrow in his heart. He states, “The situation for those in Afghanistan, especially the military, is very dire. Trust me, they have stories to tell, and I have experienced that when his home’s gate knocks, I get terrified and say ‘This time it is the Taliban.’”
On the other hand, Aminullah Ranjbar, another former military member, claims that the Islamic Republic of Iran, with a humane perspective, has hosted five million Afghan citizens and they are grateful for the hospitality. However, he criticizes human rights organizations and host countries for neglecting the former Afghan security forces.
This former military official is complaining about the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Iran, alleging neglect in addressing the refugee status of Afghan migrants. He adds, “The gate is open, but they don’t accept any migrants. The treatment is unpleasant. Are these human rights advocates who mistreat and humiliate asylum seekers?”
He continues to assert that despite Iran hosting millions of Afghan citizens, the children of Afghan migrants are deprived of essential documents for residence, education, obtaining SIM cards, and bank cards. According to him, the census forms previously distributed by Iran are not recognized by the country’s security forces anymore, and holders of these documents also face rejection and are deported to Afghanistan.
Simultaneously, some former security forces currently residing in Pakistan reveal that they are facing a very dire situation of fear of forced expulsion by the police. They emphasize that lacking the necessary residency documents, they are unable to rent a home. Former military personnel, who are also living in hiding abroad, add that their children cannot pursue education, and these circumstances are creating a dire situation for them.
Ahmad (pseudonym), one of the former military members, expresses concern about the uncertain future of the security forces, stating, “How long should we be destitute, homeless, and unfortunate? Those who were our leaders were once honorable generals have fled. It has been two years since no one hears our voice, yet in every political debate, they exploit us for their own goals.”
Following the decision of the Pakistani government to force the expulsion of Afghan refugees, some former military personnel from Afghanistan find themselves on the brink of being deported to Afghanistan.
Shamsia (pseudonym), served in the Ministry of Defense of the previous government of Afghanistan, and is currently seeking refuge in Pakistan. She expresses deep concern about the process of expelling Afghan migrants from Pakistan and states that if she is expelled, she will face the risk of death. She says, “I served in the military for three years, and currently, I am even afraid of my own shadow. If we are expelled, we will face punishment and death.”
This former military personnel emphasizes that the lives of security forces in Pakistan are also in jeopardy. She argues that the Taliban have reached Europe, and these former security forces of Afghanistan in Pakistan are not immune.
This comes as over five thousand former security personnel, through an open letter to the United States Congress, have called for serious attention to the fate of former military members who have fled to Iran, and Pakistan, and are living in dire situations in Afghanistan. In their letter, they describe the concerning situation of former security forces under the control of the Taliban and in neighboring countries. They urge the U.S. Congress to exert necessary pressure on this group to release former military personnel from Taliban prisons, putting an end to the detention, massacres, torture, and disappearance of security forces from the previous Afghan government. They assert that with the Taliban’s resurgence, Afghanistan is once again turning into a haven for international terrorism, and the world will witness attacks reminiscent of those on September 11, 2001.
In a part of this letter, it is stated, “We wish for serious attention to be given to the fate of former military personnel before they become further victims of the Taliban’s revenge and the exploitation by malicious regional countries. This is to prevent those forces who were once at the forefront of the international fight against terrorism from becoming, due to their compulsion, adversaries to global stability and security.”
Previously, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) office had released a report stating that during the two years of Taliban rule, over 200 employees of the former government, the majority of whom were military personnel, had been killed by the Taliban. The report documented at least 800 cases of extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, mistreatment, and enforced disappearances.
Furthermore, findings from the Hasht-e Subh Daily, as reported in a separate report, indicate that in the past three months, approximately 20 former security personnel have been killed and targeted in various ways by the Taliban. In the latest incident, this group has targeted a former military member in Nuristan province. The trend of the Taliban’s continued detention, torture, and forced disappearance of former security forces persists.