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The Afghan expat's dilemma: Should I stay or should I go?

Thousands of Afghans who returned from abroad after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 now face the dilemma of once again having to flee and bear the resentment of Afghans left behind.


A family enjoys a day off in Babur Gardens in Kabul, Afghanistan, in April. Afghans who returned to the country after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, now face the dilemma of once again having to flee and bear the resentment of those left behind.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

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In a 12 x 12 windowless room hang hundreds of oil paintings, Islamic calligraphy, and other fine art pieces created by Afghan artists trying to preserve traditional art forms, as well as push local boundaries in an effort to create new ones.

The room is in The Galleria, a small arts gallery tucked away in the corner of a busy Kabul city neighborhood. The owner of the gallery is Rameen Javid, a clean cut, fast talking Afghan-American from New York City.

Mr. Javid is one of thousands of Afghans who fled in late 1970s and '80s because of a communist takeover of the country and ensuing violence and then returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. And like many other Afghan returnees, he now faces the dilemma of once again having to flee Afghanistan if the security worsens and bear the resentment of the Afghans he leaves behind.

“We have no plans of leaving anytime soon. There has to be an extreme security situation for me to leave,” Mr. Javid says referring to his 1-year-old daughter and his wife Nadima, who was born and raised in Afghanistan.

While going to high school and college in New York, the 40-something said he dreamed of returning to Afghanistan and working with the local artists to market their work. He says he’s not going to give up his dream so quickly even if it means sticking it out through random insurgent attacks, fighting, and increasing crime in Kabul City. 


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