Former enemies help Afghan amputees recover.
They were mortal adversaries only a few months ago, but now they are amputees dealing with their new infirmities together.
Former Afghan government soldiers and Taliban combatants adjust their new prosthesis side by side at this Red Cross rehabilitation center in Kabul.
After taking his first timid steps between two parallel metal bars, Khair Mohammad, a 32-year-old sergeant in the deposed government army who had both his legs amputated in February, rests.
“When I was fit, I battled the Taliban,” claimed the sergeant, who wore a Real Madrid T-shirt and had a nicely groomed beard.
“However, things have changed,” he told AFP in a long, narrow room set out for walk training. “Our differences are a thing of the past.” Mullah Yacoub, a 44-year-old Taliban warrior who lost his left leg before being transferred to Guantanamo two decades ago, sits just a few meters away.
The Islamist argued he was mistaken for someone else when he was transported to the US prison camp in Cuba, where he spent more than four years, wearing a jet-black turban and a face mask over his dishevelled, henna-dyed beard.
He was imprisoned in an Afghan jail for several years after his return.
He’s getting fitted for a new artificial limb right now.
Despite the difficulties he has faced, Yacoub told AFP that the Taliban “have no issue with anyone” since seizing control of Afghanistan on August 15.
“Everyone has been forgiven, and no one is an adversary anymore.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which has maintained this rehabilitation center for more than three decades, has never questioned the affiliations of the amputees it accepts.
Being fitted with new limbs and learning to walk again is a privilege in a country with weak health services and where the crippled are sometimes significant burdens on their families.
“This is an international clinic open to everyone,” Mohammad, the former government soldier, explained. “Because we’re all dealing with the same issue, we get along.” Fahd, a 20-year-old former Taliban fighter who did not give his last name, was injured in an explosion four months ago in the eastern province of Paktiya, losing both of his lower legs.
He’s come to try on his prosthesis for the first time, dressed in a traditional embroidered cap and shawl and accompanied by a buddy for support.
“We’re all equal here,” he remarked. “In our country, there is now peace.” The Kabul center is one of seven that the runs. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.