Peace will return to Afghanistan if the international community leaves the country to its own people, says Jesuit Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who had spent several months in Taliban captivity.
The Jesuit priest, who is popularly known as Prem, was abducted on June 2, 2014, in the Zendjan district of Afghanistan’s Herat province. He was released on February 22 through the intervention of the Indian government. He had been the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan for five years.
Father Prem, who continues to work for the JRS, now in Sri Lanka, answered email questions from Matters India on August 18, as the Taliban took total control of Afghanistan amid chaos and unrest.
What are your thoughts now, as the Taliban takes over Afghanistan?
I am really concerned and worried on seeing the sudden takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban. I am worried more about my staff, who have to face the terrible consequences and the two Indian Jesuits of JRS in Afghanistan who were not able to return to India due to the sudden developments. I also think of all our students, especially the female students, about their future and their dreams. Also I have great concern for the people of Afghanistan, who are known for their great culture and tradition, are made to face brutal killing, suffering, poverty, illiteracy, male chauvinism and fundamentalism.
Were you keeping track of the developments in Afghanistan after your release?
Not much. But I keep track of the developments of JRS in Afghanistan. In 2020, JRS Afghanistan remembered with gratitude its 15 years of compassionate service in Afghanistan. JRS has released a booklet: JRS Afghanistan frontier Mission, testimonies of hope. Recently Father Stan, who served JRS Afghanistan for many years, asked me to co-author an article for JIVAN Magazine of the Jesuits of South Asia and I shared my thoughts in the article.
For the full interview, visit Matters India