Afghanistan: Olympic athletes escape Taliban in a drama of hope

Afghanistan Athletics Federation chief Haroon Chan was recently kidnapped by Taliban insurgents and holds the tales of a ragtag group of men and women who stood up to the terrorists. Spiralling in recent years,…

Afghanistan: Olympic athletes escape Taliban in a drama of hope

Afghanistan Athletics Federation chief Haroon Chan was recently kidnapped by Taliban insurgents and holds the tales of a ragtag group of men and women who stood up to the terrorists.

Spiralling in recent years, the Taliban’s influence grew rapidly after they took control of Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001.

Armed with improvised improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the militants made their presence felt almost overnight and the country entered a downward spiral of insecurity, poverty and corrupt politicians.

A number of people lost their lives, but the group who helped 84 people flee to freedom is a story that deserves to be told.

In May 2017, the Secretary General of the Asian Olympic Committee (AOC) Bachrucker told SportTimes that “it was only through determination and courage that Kabul City, Kabul province and the entire country is going to stand again”.

The pursuit of these dreams led several former athletes, officials and their families to seek refuge in Pakistan.

As the athletes and their families were engaged in a desperate race against time, the AOC, Interpol and the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee, a newly-formed central body that oversees sports, came to their rescue.

In an interview with his relatives from Iraq in Spain this week, Ashraf Alam spoke of their way of life in Kabul, which was reduced to ruins.

“Their income was absolutely nil, in that they had no job, no money,” he told the interviewer.

“They were not supported by any government, no financial institution, nothing.”

“I was surprised and shocked when I heard from my cousin that they have been chosen. We have to thank the central committee and the secretary general (Bachrucker) for that. For Afghanistan, for Asia. We are grateful to everybody.”

Emir Kishru, a footballer turned theatre manager, spoke of the comfort and security they have now.

“When we were staying in the safe house, there were 50 members from all Afghan sports, from motorcyclists to basketballers, and even official officials.

“When the Taliban were there, we were safer in Peshawar. This has been a tough moment for the whole family. We are grateful and we would like to thank the AOC and the secretary general, but now the situation is a bit better.”

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