Mustafa In No Man’s Land

Mustafa In No Man’s Land

November 24, 2921

During the day, it is warm in eastern Afghanistan. But as soon as it gets dark, not even a winter jacket protects against the cold. Mustafa and four colleagues spent two nights on the eastern border to Pakistan. In the dust, cramped in the midst of thousands of people. In no man’s land, between Taliban fighters on one side and Pakistani forces on the other. „We had to stay awake“, says Mustafa. „If they would let us through to the border.“

The moves toward freedom were tiny, but eventually they passed the final checkpoint. „We were tired and exhausted“,Mustafa recalls. „And happy.“ Actually, they had planned to take a selfie as soon as they left Afghanistan behind. „But we forgot about it. We were just too excited.“

That was three weeks ago. Mustafa was able to escape the Taliban. For five years, he worked at the “Bawar Media Center” in Mazar-i-Sharif – a newsroom set up by NATO and the Bundeswehr. „Bawar“ translates to trust. Mustafa helped regain the Afghan people’s trust in the media after the last Taliban rule 20 years ago. Has created news stories for radio broadcasts and social networks. „When the Taliban entered Mazar-i-Sharif in August, we all knew we were in danger“, Mustafa says. „We had to run away.“

Mustafa and his colleagues were on the evacuation list of the German Foreign Office, as local forces. But no one came to pick them up during the Bundeswehr rescue operation at the end of August. „So we tried on our own“, he tells. They couldn’t get airline tickets. “The overland route was our only option.”

They made it across the border, over the Chaiber Pass, and into Islamabad. “I felt free,” Mustafa recalls. But by now it feels like he has escaped into a dead end. “My Pakistan visa will expire in a few days. And I still have no news from the German Embassy.” Mustafa is able to extend his visa by one month – but after 60 days at the latest, he must leave Pakistan. “If I don’t get an acceptance letter from Germany soon, I will be deported.” Some of his work colleagues have already received visas and airline tickets from the German Embassy, after just a few days in Pakistan. “I haven’t. And nobody explains to me why.”

The clock is ticking. “My biggest fear is that I will have to go back to Afghanistan,” Mustafa says. “Even though I miss my family there a lot. There’s no way I can go back.” He has no choice but to wait. Just like back then at the Afghan border. It still feels like no man’s land.

Fotos: Achim Schmidt
Text: Kathrin Braun

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