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Wednesday, 28 November, 2001, 15:38 GMT
Kabul father pleads for peace
Abdul Wakil
He brought up his children as fighting raged all around
By the BBC's Alan Johnston in Kabul

There is a sense in Afghanistan that the country stands at a crossroads and that the days and weeks ahead will reveal whether Afghans will begin to emerge from the horrors of more than two decades of war.

It was a terrible time, you couldn't go out, but still you wanted to hang on to your house here, whether you lived or died

Abdul Wakil
Nowhere would peace be more appreciated than in the Daibori area of Kabul. As armed groups fought for control of the city in the early 1990s, they laid waste to vast tracts of its south side.

In street after street in southern parts of Kabul there is not a single building left standing.

Homes, shops and schools have been reduced to rubble.

No choice

Many people died and many others fled, but some, like 60-year-old Abdul Wakil, could not afford to leave.

He had no choice but to try to bring up his seven children while the fighting raged around their home.

Waiting for aid in Kabul
Girls will be hoping to get education

The family would shelter in their basement - a room about 2 metres by 2.5 metres - as the rockets smashed into the neighbourhood.

All Abdul Wakil could do was pray that his family would be spared.

Eventually a rocket did crash into his courtyard.

"Suddenly, at about four o'clock, the rocket landed," he recalled.

"The basement was filled with smoke and dust. As it cleared we made our way up the stairs and we could see that the roof and all the glass and the doors and everything had been destroyed by the blast."

No more rockets

Asked about the Afghan peace talks in Germany, Abdul Wakil says: "We need someone to bring peace and stability to the country.

"It doesn't matter what ethnic group that leader comes from - Tajik, Pashtun, Hazara."

He says there must be no more rockets.

Abdul Wakil's children have all survived the war, but he says that his six daughters are illiterate.

Like all girls, they were banned from school under the Taleban.

Abdul Wakil says that the first thing a new government must do is make sure that Afghans can be properly educated.

And Abdul Wakil hopes that peace might ease his desperate economic problems.

The tiny wage he earns as a tailor has not been paid for three months, and the family, like many Kabul people, is living on bread and tea.

Abdul Wakil
"Suddenly the rocket landed and the whole house was filled with dust."
See also:

22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan aid delivery 'unsafe'
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghan renewal 'will come from within'
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Agencies call for Afghan peace force
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Food aid heads for Kabul
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Afghanistan's huge rebuilding task
15 Nov 01 | South Asia
UN aid shipment reaches Afghanistan
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