Nuristani has finished off her term of office as the first female head of the Afghanistan Poll Panel. Now, she continues her term as one of the 8 commissioners. She was replaced by Aurangzaib as the chairperson. He is currently a part of the stranded delegation. Hawa Alam Nuristani (aged 56) left the capital city of Kabul on 8th August. She went to Beirut to attend a conference without a clue of what lies ahead.
A week later on 15th August, she and her colleagues were waiting at the Dubai airport to get back to Kabul. But, suddenly her family told her about the takeover of the Taliban in the country. She got to know about its progress towards reaching the capital city of Kabul.
She was asked to stay back for her safety. It brought a feeling of fear for her. Also, she had been promoting and conducting the Democratic elections in Afghanistan that were not encouraged by the Taliban. All the 8 election commissioners decided to alter their plan to travel back to Kabul and planned to leave for another country.
Nuristani, was the first female head of the Independent Election Commission in Afghanistan. She is now one of the officials stranded abroad. The Independent Election commission in Afghanistan is similar to the Election Commission of India. The ECI in India has 3 commissioners and the IEC in Afghanistan has 8 Election Commissioners.
We shall not disclose their location but they are living in a rented house in the country. She said that she was not prepared for the Taliban takeover and can’t explain her feelings over this news. Their team was preparing for the next elections in the country at Lebanon to further strengthen democracy. She has been stressing over the uncertainty in the future.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan has gone under the charge of the Taliban and President Ashraf Ghani has fled from the country. She felt that the advice of her family on not returning home was correct. Her house, cars, bodyguards, and other equipment have been captured by the Taliban. She is even informed that her family has been displaced and her pregnant daughter-in-law and other children in the family have been forced into hiding.
She said that she has been astonished over the quick speed of the Taliban military takeover. It was planned that the American forces would leave before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, handing the country over to the Afghanistan Military. But, no one expected them to quickly take over the country without any strong resistance. Negotiations and talks were going on with the Taliban in Doha with the government. Still, the takeover came as a shock.
Nuristani has also addressed the takeover as a ‘Dark Page’ in the history of Afghanistan. She said that they have closed 20 years of efforts for Human and Women rights. She shared that they are not considering going back to Kabul because the Taliban doesn’t believe in democracy. As the head of The IEC, Nuristani signed on the winning documents of President Asharaf Ghani in the 2019 elections.
Nuristani has been the representative of the Lower House of Parliament, a Member of Parliament and a member of the Parliamentary Commission for human rights, and a member of the Parliamentary Commission for access to information.
Till now, 4 attempts have been made by the Taliban to kill Nuristani. She has also tried to make peace with the insurgents. But, in return, they have made attempts to kill her. She belongs to a country where women have been traditionally asked to hide their faces in public. She has been very daring and brave in breaking the conventional shackles. Nuristani began to work on state radio by reading the news section in the late 80s. At that time, Afghanistan was headed by the communist President Najibullah. She used to broadcast news on TV in 1989 when Mujahideen fought against the Soviet troops during the civil war.
In 1996, she used to read the news at 8:00, and one day after a night, the next day she was forced to go off-air when the Taliban took over Kabul. Nuristani was banned from working like other women. But, she was determined to continue her efforts, and she worked at the United Nations’ World Food Program. She used to educate small girls secretly from the Taliban.
Small girls use to come to her home for studying and when the Taliban found about it, she was falsely accused of forcing a Muslim woman for turning to Christianity. It was said by the Taliban that if they found her, she shall be punished to death.
Her husband, Haji Mohammad Alam was also in Taliban Jail for 5 years as a political prisoner. When she was being searched, she climbed the walls of her house and escaped.
When Taliban rule got over after the American troops entered the country, she made a comeback broadcast. Nuristani decided to serve her nation as an activist and politicians refused to head the TV. She even thought that as a newscaster it was easy to target her.
In one of the death attempts on her, a bomb blast was planned to destroy her car while she was campaigning for women’s for Karzai in the elections with her daughter. However, she addressed it as an ordinary political plot. She was given regular threats. In another attempt, her leg was fired at during the 2006 election campaign and the bullet is still in her leg.
On the other hand, now after the Taliban has seized control of Afghanistan, it is uncertain of what might happen in the future.