Days of hiding, last-minute Pakistan scare: How Afghan war lady Salima Mazari escaped Taliban

Salima Mazari, one of the few feminine governors in Afghanistan — who took up arms to battle the Taliban, has reportedly escaped the nation and is at an undisclosed location within the United States.

Earlier, a number of media shops reported that Salima Mazari was captured by the Taliban.

The Time confirmed that Mazari is alive and one of the authors of the report was concerned in her escape from Afghanistan.

“We are two journalists — Zakarya is an Afghan and Robyn a Canadian — who have reported from the strife-torn country in the past. Zakarya was based in Afghanistan but able to leave for Paris during the evacuation. He kept in touch with Mazari after the Taliban seized power and she went into hiding. Together in a joint rescue effort by Afghans, Americans and Canadians, he helped to play a part in getting her to safety,” The Time reported.

Mazari was within the workplace of provincial governor Mohammad Farhad Azimi when the information of Balkh’s fall to Taliban broke. Soon, she obtained frantic cellphone calls from the militia leaders from her district – Charkint. She instructed her males to face down. “Continuing to fight would be against the interests of our people,” she stated.

Read: The rise, fall and rise of Taliban: An Afghan Story

She then adopted the suggestion of Mohammad Farhad Azimi and made a run to Hairatan – which shares a border with Uzbekistan, alongside together with her husband and guards. Several high-profile leaders, together with former vice-president and warlord, Abdul Rashid Dostum, and former Balkh governor and mujahideen commander Atta Mohammad Noor joined her.

However, upon reaching Hairatan she discovered that a number of high officers crowded the Afghan aspect. Mazari was not allowed to cross over to the Uzbekistan aspect. She with few others saved pleading in useless as a couple of legislators together with Azimi, Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum had been permitted to enter Uzbekistan.

Being on the Taliban’s hit record, Mazari donned a burqa and took shelter in a relative’s home. After hiding there for 2 days she determined to go to Kabul however she was nicely conscious of the Taliban checkpoints she’s going to cross on her manner. But, she took the danger and began for Kabul together with her husband and family members. “Fortunately, we were not recognised by any Taliban fighters. They let us through easily. It was the first day of the collapse of the country, and they were celebrating,” she instructed Time.

But, Mazari was a high-profile particular person who couldn’t publicly make a run to the Kabul airport for evacuation. Unsure of who to belief, she spent a while transferring from one protected home to a different to keep away from being tracked. She despatched her paperwork to pals who had connections with international governments, together with these of the US, UK, Germany, and the Netherlands.

One of the folks she despatched her paperwork to was journalist Zakarya, who was airlifted to Paris the earlier week. When Zakarya contacted her desirous to know if she is alright, Mazari instructed him that she was hiding and him the id info of all her family members.

Zakarya conveyed the data to Robyn. “I just heard from Salima Mazari. She is in Kabul,” he instructed Robyn.

Following this, Robyn’s accomplice – a Canadian photojournalist Matt Reichel contacted everybody who may of in a position to assist Mazari.”We prepared all her documents with a cover letter explaining Salima Mazari is alive, incredibly high risk, and will likely be murdered if she is found. She has no idea what to do and is hiding in a safe house. Eventually, one of my friends at the State Department, who wishes to remain unnamed, but has been instrumental in helping countless vulnerable Afghans escape, was able to forward her information to the Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) and a high-level figure in the Secretary of State’s office. This individual replied within hours offering help,” Robyn said.


Mazari was scared of being hunted down by the Taliban at any moment. But, she waited, as Zakarya kept checking up on her and assured her. But, at the last moment, fear of Pakistan’s interference haunted her.

On August 23 Mazari finally received a message on Signal from an Afghan number claiming to be from the Americal rescue operation cell. In a fit of excitement after days of hiding in fear, she shared her family information and her immediate location, including her picture as asked by the sender.

Read: The women bureaucrats of Afghanistan

But when she said this to Zakarya he was suspicious as the instructions for the rescue operation were supposed to be in Dari — an Afghan dialect of the Persian language — after a brief introduction in English. He suspected interference of Pakistani intelligence agents.

“I knew that Pakistan had been cooperating with the Taliban and that some of the group’s most famous leadership councils are based in Pakistan. I worried that it could be the Taliban or ISI [Pakistani intelligence] accessing our chat,” Zakarya told TIME.

Photojournalist Reichel then called the number on Signal but it went unanswered. He found the number of WhatsApp and called again. It was a US Army Major and several Americans could be heard in the background.

“He asked who I was. I introduced myself as a journalist and Salima’s point of contact. I told him his number reached out to Salima, she gave away all her identifying information and location, and we were concerned,” Reichel said.

However, the State Department soon confirmed that it was a real rescue operation.

The strategy was to rescue Mazari and her family by a chopper and bring them to the Hamid Karzai Internation Airport. At 7 pm on August 24, she received a call asking her to arrive at the meeting point.

She said she scrambled to figure out the location and started walking towards the meeting point with 13 of her family members, including children.

She then messaged Zakarya at 7:22 pm and informed him that she reached the Kabul airport.

The next day, she and her family members boarded a US military plane to Qatar and now she is at an undisclosed location in the US.


“At Kabul airport, I witnessed the autumn of a nation. I noticed households fleeing and leaving every little thing behind… It was troublesome to see my folks in that state of affairs. Everyone I spoke to is coping with the load of unhappiness on their shoulders,” she told TIME.

“At the moment, armed fighting is no longer the solution –we need to figure out a different way to help the country. My fight for the freedom and pride of my people will never end,” she said.


A few years ago, Salima Mazari became one of only three women governors Afghanistan ever saw. While a lot of the Afghan provinces crumbled without much of a fight, Salima tried everything to keep Chahar Kint in Balkh Province unscathed.

The Chahar Kint district, with Salima Mazari as its leader, put up a major fight against the Taliban. Her spirit brushed off on her district and the same showed in their fight against tyrannical forces, determined more than ever to re-establish their Emirate.

Until the final fall, Chahar Kint was the only region under the control of a woman which did not fall under any of the terror groups in the region. According to The Guardian, Salima Mazari successfully negotiated the surrender of 100 Taliban fighters last year.

Over the past few years, Salima Mazari had gained much praise and attention being a woman leader in Afghanistan. Speaking to The Guardian at the start of the latest Taliban onslaught in capturing Afghanistan, Salima Mazari had expressed concerns about the safety of her people.


Mazari can also be a member of the Hazara group — most of whom are Shia Muslims, who the Sunni Taliban think about a heretical sect. They have been usually focused by the Taliban and Islamic State fighters, together with an assault on a faculty within the capital in May that killed greater than 80 women.

Half the district Mazari nominally ruled was already beneath Taliban management, so she spent quite a bit of time recruiting fighters to defend the remaining.

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