Zahrah Nabi, Journalist

This is my homeland. My grandfather, my grandmother and I were born here.

This land is really a good land for us. In tough times, I shouldn’t leave my land. I think it is a responsibility one has. Otherwise, homeland has no meaning.

My name is Zahrah Nabi. I’m a journalist living in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul city.

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Every day they are becoming powerful. They are becoming rich, and they have everything in their hand.

The people here keep silent because they cannot say anything, do anything against the rule of the Taliban.

I cannot see any powerful one that can stand in front of them.

I have less and less and less hope of Taliban to be changed.

So I feel very bad. I keep myself busy. I said if you keep yourself busy, it won the depress you. So I’m continuing collecting reports. Even I don’t have anywhere to broadcast these reports.

For me, it is archiving, and I hope that one day I could share with the people, with the world that these people were left behind alone and no one was taking care of them.

It is not the Taliban let me work. They didn’t give me a permission. I am collecting reports and other things. It’s not really easy. But I’m doing these things. Sometimes hiding.

In some press conferences they just allow me.

And in some, they don’t allow.

The think “she cannot do anything against us” and that “she’s not as harmful as she can hurt us.”

Ten months [ago], when the Taliban came to power, I was really hopeful that this will be changed after six months, because people were inside Afghanistan, then they started protesting. They started complaining and they didn’t want to accept.

But you know, the people left. The activists, the journalists, the ones who knew, the ones who were educated, the ones who were powerful, they left.

And now I’m seeing around myself, poor people, old people, children, mostly illiterate women, people just looking to feed themselves.

And then, on the other hand, I see the very powerful group.

At the first press conference of Taliban, I was the only Afghan female journalist over there.

I asked Zabihullah Mujahid about the situation of women. Women if they are allowed to work, especially women in media and if women are allowed to study?

And his answer was, “You should wait. Later on, we will announce.”

When Zabihullah Mujahid said that you should wait, then I had doubts. They are like the past but this time they changed and they became clever. They know now how to do it in front of the media, in front of the international community. But once they know that there is no one around to see them and watch them, they are doing very, very tough things.

Doing protests and demonstrating, we cannot reach our goals.

It is not easy and it’s not working.

I will continue fighting but fighting doesn’t mean that I will go and just fight in front of them. But yeah, I will continue.

Just trying a little bit, a little bit to make people aware of their rights. If the community will be changed, if the people will be changed, everything will be changed.

This is tough but I know if we want to do something we can do it.

I’m really afraid sometimes. I feel that something will happen to me. Maybe they will put me in prison or jail or something like this.

Hopefully they won’t send me by force. I really don’t want to leave the country because I grew up as a refugee in other countries.

We were in Kabul, Afghanistan but we left because of civil war.

I was really a child that cannot notice anything more than seeing around that it is all war. Everywhere was destroyed.

When Taliban took control of the city the previous time, I was in Pakistan and I was going to primary school.

In 2011, once my university finished so I decided to come back in Afghanistan in Kabul.

My sister is in Canada and brothers are in the United States. When they heard, they were shocked. Really, they didn’t expect that I could choose back Afghanistan rather to be in other countries. I said it’s my home and I want to try and I want to go there and do my best and they said that you’re wasting your time.

But that time I didn’t care and I came alone. I became a teacher in a remote area in the north.

And slowly, slowly I could join the media of Afghanistan.

In 2017, finally we could approach our dream and then we opened Baano TV.

It was for woman by woman. The camerawoman, the director, all of them were women.

I thought that it’s not real. I’m dreaming. You know sometimes you’re thinking that you’re not on the earth. You’re not in your place and it means that you’re dreaming. For me, it was like this.

15 August 2021 is again the date that I cannot forget. Taliban came into power. We shut down the TV station.

Most of our colleagues left the county.

Me with one of my colleagues were alone and we packed all of the equipment and stored it.

It was really hard. Day by day, I felt very, very tired.

The most thing that depresses me is that everyone, the young people, all of them say, I don’t want to stay in this country. I just want to leave.

Then asking me that you are also wasting your time, you should leave the country. And this also

But I am very happy that I didn’t leave the country even though I had the opportunity, still have the opportunity to leave the country.

Even in tough times, I can stand and these things, it make me day by day strong and I can see around me a lot of other girls and women they stand and they are trying to live.


Malik Waqar Ahmed
Additional Camerawork
Ayesha Tanzeem
Executive Producer

About the project

One year into Taliban rule, VOA has taken a detailed and objective look at Afghanistan, yesterday and today. In this special project, we bring you previously untold stories, features on Afghan refugees and their struggles in foreign lands, eyewitness accounts of the day Kabul fell, analytical pieces on the Taliban’s governance, security challenges, and relations with regional countries, and several documentaries.

Project credits

Executive Producer: Ayesha Tanzeem

Supervising Producer: Deepak Dobhal

Coordinating Producer: Sirwan Kajjo

Coordination Assistance: Alparslan Esmer, Iftikhar Hussain, Aisha Khalid, Roshan Noorzai, Jamisha Purdy, Ezel Sahinkaya

Executive Assistance: Hasib Danish Alokozai, Asgar Asgarov, Melek Caglar, Tabinda Naeem, Cevdet Seyhan, Motabar Shirwani, Nafees Takar

Copy Editors: Elizabeth Arrott, Michael Bowman, Kevin Enochs, Holly Franko, Amy Katz, Barry Newhouse, Amy Reifenrath, Mary-Alice Salinas, Sharon Shahid, Candace Williams

Social Media: Leena Halabi, Andrea Migliorisi, Stephanie Tu

Special Thanks: John Featherly