These are sad days for the residents of Faryab. Indeed, life in rural Afghanistan, as far as I understand it, is becoming more difficult with each passing week. Faryab, however, has been a bastion of relative peace during the past few years. While conflict was sprouting and intensifying in many other provinces, life in Faryab more or less remained the same, or, as some would attest, even improved.
Those days, I fear, are over. Or at least gone for now.
In only the most recent of harrowing events, this past week in Faryab saw the kidnapping of four staff from the organization with which I used to work. A group Taliban fighters stopped their vehicle along the main road in a remote district and kidnapped the four men who identified themselves as INGO staff. One man who claimed to be a school teacher and the driver were allowed to continue on their way. This morning's report from a colleague revealed that two of the hostages have been released. Negotiations between village elders and the captors are ongoing for the remaining two hostages.
In these most pious days of fervent prayer and reflection, I call upon my Muslim friends to save a prayer not only for these two men, but for all Afghans who are battling for survival while facing the swift deterioriation of their beloved country.