THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Sparking a fervent debate: Afghan woman pilot’s asylum bid triggers storm of criticism

Sparking a fervent debate: Afghan woman pilot’s asylum bid triggers storm of criticism

AFGHANISTAN: The shock announcement of Afghanistan’s first woman fixed-wing pilot to seek asylum in the US has touched off a spirited national debate on the country’s most vexing issues: insecurity, women’s rights and mass exodus of young people.

culturemilitaryreligionviolence
By AFP

Saturday 31 December 2016, 11:00AM


Afghanistan’s first female pilot, Niloofar Rahmani, poses for a photograph at an Air Force airfield in Kabul in April 2015. Photo: Shah Marai/AFP

Afghanistan’s first female pilot, Niloofar Rahmani, poses for a photograph at an Air Force airfield in Kabul in April 2015. Photo: Shah Marai/AFP

Niloofar Rahmani, a 25-year-old pilot lionised widely as the “Afghan Top Gun” after the 1986 Tom Cruise film on flying aces, was scheduled to return to Afghanistan last week after a 15-month training course with the US air force.

But on the eve of her departure, she declared she will not be returning citing fears for her safety, triggering a storm of criticism in Afghanistan for “betraying” her nation but also garnering support from activists.

“What she said in the US was irresponsible and unexpected. She was meant to be a role model for other young Afghans,” defence ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanesh said on Monday (Dec 26). “She has betrayed her country. It is a shame.”

Rahmani became a symbol of hope for millions of Afghan women when she surfaced in the press in 2013 after becoming Afghanistan’s first woman pilot since the Taliban era, dressed in tan combat boots, khaki overalls and aviator glasses.

The once-unimaginable feat last year won her the US State Department’s “Women of Courage Award”.

But with fame came death threats from insurgents and she routinely faced contempt from her male colleagues in a conservative nation where many still believe that a woman does not belong outside the home.

In an interview in Kabul last year, Rahmani said she always carried a pistol for her protection and though she has grown accustomed to the ogling eyes of men, she never left her airbase in uniform, lest it make her a target.

Rahmani’s lawyer Kimberly Motley said her decision to seek asylum in the US had been a “heartbreakingly difficult decision”.

“Niloofar and her family have received vicious threats which have unfortunately confirmed that her safety is at significant risk if she were to come back to Afghanistan,” Motley said.

“The real betrayal to Afghanistan is against those who threaten her life, her family’s life, and also to those who continue to oppress women.”

Laguna Golf Phuket

But some of the most virulent criticism over her decision has come from women.

“Dear Niloofar, do you think your problems are bigger than that of millions of other Afghan women?” photojournalist Maryam Khamosh wrote on Facebook.

“I sometimes wish I were Niloofar and could soar in the sky and bomb the enemies of my people. But you, Niloofar, who touched the skies from the ashes of our land have shamed our flag.”

NATO forces also took umbrage at her media comment that the security situation in Afghanistan is “getting worse and worse”.

“Afghan security forces have seen definitive progress... and their performance in 2016 was better than 2015, and we expect 2017 to be better than 2016,” the military coalition said.

But that sentiment hardly resonates with the Afghan youth, who have continued to flee the country’s escalating conflict in record numbers.

On Monday many Afghans decried another symbol of violence and impunity – social media images of dreaded warlord Faryadi Sarwar Zardad relaxing in a public bathhouse.

Infamous for once keeping a “human dog” that savaged victims on his command, Zardad was unexpectedly deported from Britain this month following his early release from jail.

“When someone like Zardad can roam freely in Kabul then Niloofar has the right to not come back,” said an Afghan man on Facebook.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

williamsrob8@gmail.com | 02 January 2017 - 06:47:01

Afghanistan is a dangerous place for people like Niloofar.
Many Afghan men are ratbags and immature. My advice, get out of there.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Karon Police reveal details of Norwegian arrested for death of Brit at Phuket resort

Your initial reporting on this story were completely ridiculous. Many other outlets reported the sam...(Read More)


Norwegian tourist charged for killing British man at Phuket resort

Wrong K,especially in SEA i had the same experience as G.with those fruit baskets and straight blade...(Read More)


Phuket officials whittle down routes for ‘Bike Un Ai Rak’ mass-cycling event

K,this event isn't meant to be a tourist attraction.Why do you hijack it for your rant about be...(Read More)


Karon Police reveal details of Norwegian arrested for death of Brit at Phuket resort

Just like everywhere else in the world, only a judge can decide if bail is granted, police can only ...(Read More)


Rescue workers trap three monitor lizards in houses and gardens in Kathu

Kurt,they were released into their natural habitat.Same as they do with snakes.Should they give a wa...(Read More)


Norwegian tourist charged for killing British man at Phuket resort

Kurt,I can't remember being with you in the same room wherever i stayed.So please tell me how do...(Read More)


Phuket officials whittle down routes for ‘Bike Un Ai Rak’ mass-cycling event

Un Air Rak? Warmth of love? How about to experience that first at Phuket beaches, in Phuket taxis, v...(Read More)


Rescue workers trap three monitor lizards in houses and gardens in Kathu

Yes GerryT81, that is true. But Phuket officialdom should warn foreign tourists about it on forehand...(Read More)


Norwegian tourist charged for killing British man at Phuket resort

Sorry GerryT81. Fruit baskets never come with a steak knife. And any kind of burger by room service ...(Read More)