“[W]hen President Biden got elected as the president of the United States, we had a very high faith in him. We believed in him, but he proved us wrong. We claim, and we say we don’t negotiate with terrorists, but we negotiated with terrorists,” Baktash Haidary told The Western Journal.
“Rock” is what they called Baktash Haidary during his days fighting with U.S. Army Special Forces in Afghanistan, coming from the last part of his name “tash,” which means “rock” in Uzbek.
Haidary is an Afghan veteran living in the U.S. who began volunteering to help refugees and those trying to flee Afghanistan when the U.S. withdrew troops last year.
Originally from the city of Sheberghān, Afghanistan, in 2006 Haidary became a combat interpreter with U.S. forces.
Spending years working with Special Forces and fighting the Taliban, Haidary faced first-hand the brutal struggles of Afghanistan and the violence of the Taliban, which took the lives of many of his friends.
During one mission in the Kandahar province, Haidary and the Special Forces teams faced the particular danger of the Taliban’s improvised explosive devices planted all over main roads.
One day, a convoy of Humvees got hit by an IED. Haidary realized that one of his friends was in the convoy, so he rushed to see if he was still alive. Eventually, he was forced to look for body pieces.
“It’s funny that before this incident, like 30 or 40 minutes before this incident, we took the last picture with that guy. I still have that picture,” Haidary said.
When he found his buddy, he was dead, practically sliced open. The driver was “pretty much fried and burned right on the wheel … and the gunner, which was right on the hood … half is still burning, and half is gone.”
Haidary grabbed a body bag and realized that his buddy’s leg was gone. So he went to find the leg to put in the bag. When Haidary searched the pockets, he found some money and a picture of his friend’s fiance. The IED had been so strong that the paper was literally shattered, like glass.
“[I]t is one of thousands of stories that we have seen in the battle in Afghanistan. And so there are a lot of scenarios, stories like that. So anyways, it was one of these stories I could remember,” Haidary said.
After years of being with the Special Forces, Haidary decided to apply for a visa to come to the United States. He applied for the Special Immigration Visa in 2009. That immigration program was specifically for Afghan and Iraqi military translators and only allowed 50 visas for both countries each year.
Haidary had to wait almost six years before he was finally approved to come to America.
When he finally arrived, Haidary was eager to get job and work hard. He began working in private security — working closely with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones — before becoming a sales consultant with Nissan Cars.
Then the pandemic hit, and Haidary began taking other jobs. He drove for Uber and Lyft, then worked for his friend’s company, and now he has a small company that installs home theater systems.
Once the American withdrawal from Afghanistan began, Haidary started volunteering with organizations to help refugees and those who were stranded in Afghanistan.
Haidary’s own mother and sister were among those who were left behind.
As Haidary watched the withdrawal unfold, he was deeply disappointed by how it was handled.
“We said we don’t leave anybody behind. No, we left so many people behind, our Afghan allies, our citizens, our green card holders, the people who trusted and pretty much talked well of us,” Haidary said.
With his military background and knowledge, Haidary believed that there was a way to pull out and evacuate without creating the chaos and dealing with the violence that ensued.
But instead, in the midst of the evacuations, Haidary was hearing from friends in Afghanistan about how they could not get out. These were interpreters who had worked with Special Forces and had dedicated part of their lives and careers to aiding the U.S. military.
At the airport, some had to leave their kids and families behind because they simply could not get them through the crowds. They were afraid that their kids would be run over and killed by the crowds.
Haidary did all he could to help those trapped in the country, especially interpreters and his combat friends, since they were at such high risk of being targeted by the Taliban.
He heard from those in Afghanistan that, though the Taliban tried to parade like good guys and a legitimate government, they “go to former employees of the government, and they pull them, and they kill them.”
Throughout the withdrawal last year, Haidary saw any realistic hope for Afghanistan fade as the Taliban took over and suppressed the people.
For many Afghans who saw the withdrawal as American abandonment, Haidary tried to tell them that the American people still by and large stood with them. It was just that the withdrawal process was a terrible decision.
“And we have been telling Afghan people and our Afghan allies that whatever decision the United State government takes, U.S. government doesn’t represent American people, the American people will be always with you guys. We’re two people side by side, and we’ll help as much as they can,” Haidary said.
Once the Taliban took control, there was no money, no work, no jobs, and the Taliban began killing everyone they could find who worked with the U.S.
“As far as hope, there is no hope,” Haidary said.
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