For the past two weeks, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to check Facebook. A green light next to Ahmed’s picture tells me he’s alive.
Like many veterans, I watch the events in Afghanistan unfold from the safety of my home while communicating with the Afghan interpreter I depended on for months, knowing he is in grave danger. In the waning days of the American withdrawal, Ahmed brought his family to the airport Abbey gate only to be turned away.
Getting to Kabul safely from his home some 150 km away must have been such a relief. I can’t even imagine the excitement when he finally made it through the crowds to the gate.
Tragically, despite having all the necessary documents (and letters of support from many veterans who served alongside him), Ahmed and his family were denied entry to the airport. For a week he waited at a relative’s home, waiting for it to be safe enough to make his way to the gate again, as the Aug. 31 deadline came and went. His hopes dashed, and every expectation of being killed, he returned home this week unsure of what to do next.
We put Ahmed and thousands like him in harm’s way by encouraging a throng of desperate Afghan allies to assemble at the Kabul airport and then left the majority of them behind. Now we must work diplomatically with the Taliban to allow evacuations to resume and ensure our partners’ safety.
Nicholas Pulos, Rochester