Afghan-American refugee in Lansing worries about family left behind

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Sahar Mahmood says she’s reliving a nightmare.

My family left Afghanistan right before the Taliban in ’94 and we went to Pakistan. So it took about 6 years we came in 2001. But for us, the only way out was to go to Pakistan first so we weren’t under Taliban rule. because we knew how bad it was going to be.”

This week the Taliban hinted at a rule without brutality and promised peace, but Mahmood says she doubts this will be the outcome. She knows firsthand what the Taliban is capable of.

“I think many Afghans who’ve experienced this before like myself and my family members know that this is a tactic.”

Mahmood says she fears for the family she’s left behind, but also for those who won’t be able to make it out.

“No family risks their life unless it’s extremely necessary. Their lives, their children’s lives for a glimpse of hope. People aren’t crossing borders, hanging onto planes for the fun of it. It’s their last hope. So I think for the Afghan people the ideal situation is to restore their home country.” 

Children and women are her greatest concern.

“I have loved ones who have men in their homes so they’re not a priority which I completely understand. Women, single women, young women, journalists, LGBTQ folk are at most risk.”

It’s a conflict that’s endured for decades and one Mahmood says she’s no expert on.

She says speaking out is her way of trying to help.

For her, the terrifying reality and desperation thousands are experiencing is evident.

“If you think about it if clinging on to the top or the wing of a flight is a better option than staying on land. how heartbreaking is that.”

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