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Local Afghan Expert Predicts Uncertain Future For Afghanistan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- As the United States prepares to exit Afghanistan next Tuesday, one local expert who lived in Afghanistan says the future of the country is very uncertain.

University of Pittsburgh Professor Jennifer Murtazashvili spent three years in Afghanistan and speaks one of the major languages. She lived in the country at the beginning and end of America's 20 years there.

She says the country has changed over those years, which makes the future under the Taliban unclear.

Forget all those old stereotypes about Afghanistan, says Murtazashvili.

"It's a beautiful, very diverse country actually, and I know that many people think of Afghanistan through the prism of war," Murtazashvili said. "But Kabul is a city of probably 4 million people, a bustling, busy city full of very educated people who have changed quite a lot over the past 20 years."

Murtazashvili says most Afghans don't care about politics because, in part, they've had terrible government leaders for decades.

"We tend to blame the people of Afghanistan for this, but we also have to understand that they've been subjected to some of the worst governments imaginable. And sometimes there's such a distrust of government because they've been treated badly," the Pitt professor says.

That includes the old Taliban government and the later pro-Western government that misused billions of U.S. dollars, she says.

"Afghans didn't see a lot of that money themselves. In fact, they saw their government officials taking it, using it, abusing it, and they didn't receive a lot of it. So you can understand why people were pretty upset with the way things were going," Murtazashvili said.

The Taliban used that to win support. The question is, can they keep it, especially after Thursday's terrorist attack that killed more than 100 Afghans.

"The terror attack yesterday was a devastating blow actually to the Taliban government because one of the things that they had promised to the people of Afghanistan was that they could keep people safe," Murtazashvili said.

The professor predicts both the changes of the last 20 years and uncertainty about the Taliban could lead to a growing resistance in the years ahead.

"As we see the security situation unwind, I think that now you will begin to see more protests against them. You're going to see more resistance in the north grow because people feel there is a weakness in the Taliban and there is a window of opportunity to do more to fight them," Murtazashvili said.

Murtazashvili said the U.S. should continue to play an important role in that country even after all American troops are withdrawn.

While she supports the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country, she says without American aid many Afghans will suffer.

"Punishing the people of Afghanistan because it has a poor government, if the aid flow stops, the country is in for a world of hurt. The country is so dependent on aid that stopping that aid will cause a massive humanitarian disaster," Murtazashvili said.

The Pitt professor also says the United States must do more to evacuate those Afghans who helped us over the last two decades, and she hopes Americans will welcome these refugees.

"Those people who are trying to leave Afghanistan, the people we are seeing at the airport, people who are coming here as refugees are the country's best and brightest. And we are so fortunate to have them coming to our country because we are getting the crème de la crème," Murtazashvili said.

Murtazashvili says Pittsburgh would be lucky to have more of these Afghans make their home here.

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