English हिन्दी
Connect with us

Latest world news

“I Would Have Been Killed, Along With My Father”

Published

on

Afghans organise a protest march in Kabul demanding an end to terrorism and establishment of a political system that will ensure their safety. Photo Credit: The Conversation

How a U.S. Special Immigrant Visa program likely saved a life? Its continuation and expansion could save more

By Sher A. Nader

In July 2016, I welcomed my friend Muhammad Mihdi, his wife, and their 2-year-old son at San Francisco International Airport. They arrived here from Kabul, Afghanistan, on Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) granted to those Afghans and Iraqis who have worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan and Iraq and as a result are facing an ongoing threat in their country. I was accompanied by Barbara Preston, a retired doctor who is a volunteer for No One Left Behind (NOLB). NOLB is a nonprofit organization that supports and advocates for Afghan and Iraqi translators before and after their arrival in the U.S.

Mihdi worked for the U.S. Military in Khogyani, one of Afghanistan’s most volatile districts. It is in the southern part of Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan. Although he knew that by working with Americans in Afghanistan he was putting his life and the lives of his family members at substantial risk, he never thought of giving up. In 2012, his work at Khogyani ended but the threats to his life followed him everywhere – even to his home in Kabul.

Every time I talked to Mihdi while he was still in Afghanistan, his descriptions of the security situation worried me greatly.

“Before leaving for work in the morning, I can’t stop hugging and giving love to my little son, as I know there’s no guarantee I will get back home in the evening,” Mihdi told me a few months before his visa was issued. His voice conveyed a sense of the danger he faced daily.

When he received his SIV, he immediately arranged to travel to the U.S. He was lucky. If he hadn’t received his visa at that time, he might not be alive today. In his own words, “I would have been killed, along with my father, some months later.”

On March 8, 2017, a suicide blast destroyed the back entrance to Sardar Daud Khan Military Hospital, allowing five heavily armed terrorists disguised as medical staff to enter Afghanistan’s largest military hospital, in the heart of Kabul.

The attack began at 9 a.m. For the next seven hours, the gunmen went from ward to ward, killing everyone in their sight – including doctors and patients. At least 100 people were killed and hundreds of others injured.

Mihdi’s father had been admitted to the same hospital a few days earlier after doctors found his asthma was getting worse. His ward was on the fourth floor. “My mother and brother-in-law were there, too. They took him food and remained there to help him through most of the day, every day,” Mihdi told me when I visited him at his home a day after the attack. “There were 15 more people in the same ward.”

As soon as Mihdi learned of the attack he tried to reach his parents by phone. “The truth,” Mihdi learned, “was that my father had been killed and my mother was injured. I couldn’t believe my mother was alive until I heard her voice on the phone. Thankfully, my brother-in-law was unhurt.”

A few days after the incident, when I called and spoke to Mihdi’s mother, she still sounded shocked and terrified. “As soon as we heard the first explosion, we closed the ward’s entrance and took positions under the beds,” Mihdi’s mother explained while sobbing.

“We continued to hear explosions and gunfire for hours but no one entered our ward. Around 2 p.m., all of a sudden, there was absolute silence and we thought the attack was over,” she recalled. “Then one of the men in the ward moved toward the door to open it. Others urged him to wait for the arrival of security forces, but he didn’t listen.

“As soon as he opened the door, a bullet pierced through his head. It seemed as if the gunman had been waiting behind the door. He started shooting everyone he saw,” Mihdi’s mother said.

Mihdi’s father was shot in chest, and his mother in the leg. His brother-in-law was uninjured – Mihdi’s mother had covered him by putting herself over him. What she did was nothing short of heroic.

“I saw my husband dying in front my eyes but couldn’t do anything. I was bleeding severely,” Mihdi’s mother recalled. The incident left her with serious psychological problems. For the next few weeks, she would scream in her sleep several times during the night and remain restless throughout the day. She hasn’t fully recovered yet.

When Mihdi was living in Afghanistan, he would help his father and take him food whenever his father got sick and was admitted to hospital. Had he not come to the U.S., Mihdi would likely have been in that room with his father at the time of the attack. He would likely have been killed or seriously injured. If Mihdi were able to bring his parents along with him to the U.S., today his father would likely be alive and his mother would be healthy, enjoying their time with their newly born grandson.

Since December 2014, 11,000 SIVs have been awarded to Afghan applicants by the U.S. State Department. Thousands more were awarded in previous years dating back to the program’s creation in 2009. Some of these visa recipients, and others from Iraq, might not be alive now had their visas been denied or even delayed. For others like Mihdi who risked their lives in the service of the U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the continuance of this visa program can be the primary lifeline to truly ensure that no one is left behind.

Sher A. Nader is a freelance writer based in California, USA. He can be reached @ sher.siraj@gmail.com

India News

Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda says statements on reclaiming Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka have no ground

Devananda told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about Katchatheevu as elections are taking place in India.

Published

on

Sri Lankan Minister Douglas Devananda has said the statements from some political leaders in India on reclaiming Katchatheevu from the island nation have no ground. He told the media on Thursday that it is not unusual to hear such claims and counterclaims about the strategic island as elections are taking place in India.

The Sri Lankan Minister said he thought India is acting on its interests to secure this place to ensure Sri Lankan fishermen would not have any access to that area and that Sri Lanka should not claim any rights in that resourceful area. According to the 1974 agreement, Devananda said Indian and Sri Lankan fishermen can go fishing in the territorial waters of both countries until the pact was reviewed and amended in 1976.

The amended agreement resulted in fishermen from both countries being barred from fishing in neighboring waters. India’s ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday steered clear of the row surrounding Katchatheevu island. To a volley of questions on the Katchatheevu issue, MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal reffered to External affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent comments on the matter.

He said he would like to talk about the issue that has been raised. He added the External Affairs minister has spoken to the press here in Delhi and also in Gujarat and has clarified all the issues. He said everyone should look into the press engagements and they would find the answers to their questions there.

The remarks from Devananda, a Sri Lankan Tamil, came days after the Narendra Modi government accused the Congress and its ally DMK in Tamil Nadu of overlooking national interests by handing over Katchatheevu island to Sri Lanka in 1974. The BJP has also been slamming the 2 parties for not ensuring the rights of the fishermen wanting to fish in waters around the island.

Continue Reading

India News

US reiterates its call for fair, transparent, legal process for Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, speaks on Congress frozen accounts

The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections.

Published

on

A day after India summoned an US diplomat over their remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case, the US reiterated its call for fair, transparent, timely legal processes on Wednesday.

Responding to questions on India summoning Gloria Berbena, the US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in New Delhi, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that they will continue to follow these actions closely, including the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Notably, the meeting at the foreign ministry’s South Block office lasted nearly 40 minutes yesterday with India objecting strongly to the US remarks on the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal.

Matthew Miller also responded to a question on the Congress party’s frozen bank accounts. The US spokesperson said that they are also aware of the Congress party’s allegations that tax authorities have frozen some of their bank accounts in a manner that will make it challenging to effectively campaign in the upcoming elections. He added that the US encourages fair, transparent and timely legal processes for each of the issues.

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested last week by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection to the Delhi liquor policy scam. Earlier, AAP leaders Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Sanjay Singh were arrested in the same case.

The External Affairs Ministry had earlier stated that states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others, and this responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies, adding that it could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents.

The Ministry further emphasized that India’s legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. It mentioned that casting aspersions on India’s legal procedure is unwarranted.

The United State’s remarks followed days after Germany’s Foreign Office stressed that Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is entitled to a fair and impartial trial. The Indian government labelled their remark as blatant interference in internal matters.

Continue Reading

Latest world news

5 Chinese nationals killed in suicide bomb attack in Pakistan

This is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Published

on

Nearly five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion during an attack on their convoy by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday. Reportedly, the suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers travelling from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu, situated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur said that five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack. As yet, none has claimed responsibility for the attack. Bisham Station House Officer (SHO) Bakht Zahir asserted that the incident was a suicide blast and the authorities concerned were collecting the evidence.

The Station House Officer further added that security arrangements were tightened at the spot and the bodies were being shifted to a hospital. He added that they will investigate from where and how the vehicle of a suicide bomber came and how it happened. Notably, this is the third major attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan within a week.

Previously, two attacks hit an airbase and a strategic port in the southwest province of Balochistan where China is investing billions in infrastructure projects. Several Chinese engineers and Pakistani construction workers have for multiple years been working on hydroelectric projects as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative in the western province of Khyber-Paktunkhwa.

Notably, Dasu is home to a significant dam project, has been a target of previous attacks. Earlier in 2021, the attack in Dasu resulted in the deaths of nine Chinese nationals, along with two Pakistani children. The incident occured when a bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the Dasu Hydropower Project site was targeted.

There was confusion surrounding the nature of the attack initially, with some reports suggesting it was a bus accident. Nonetheless, subsequent investigations revealed that it was indeed a terrorist attack. The bus was hit by a blast, leading it to plunge into a ravine.

Continue Reading

Trending

-->

© Copyright 2022 APNLIVE.com